Leaks Say Only Half of Taiwan Aircraft Ready for War With China: WaPo

  • China is likely to swiftly gain air superiority in Taiwan if it goes to war, per Pentagon leaks.
  • Pentagon assessments seen by The Washington Post present a bleak outlook for Taiwan’s air force.
  • The island’s air defenses are uncoordinated and largely unprepared for combat, the intel says.

Taiwan’s air force is exposed to a Chinese invasion through a slew of gaping vulnerabilities, and it’s highly likely Beijing will achieve air superiority quickly if it goes to war across the strait, per leaked Pentagon assessments.

The leaked documents seen by The Washington Post say barely more than half of Taiwan’s aircraft is fully ready for combat missions, and that Taiwan’s own officials doubt their air defenses can “accurately detect missile launches.”

It would take the self-governed island a whole week to move its fighter jets into shelters and protect them from enemy fire, the documents say, per The Post.

The intelligence also presents an uncoordinated Taiwanese air force, saying it doesn’t have the ability to see where all of its air defense units are at any given time, The Post reported. Its units even lack compatible secure radios, per the outlet.

Pentagon analysts also criticized Taiwan’s war doctrine and training, saying that its plan to fire two air defense missiles for every target would become “strained” under China’s ballistic missile capacity, per The Post.

Additionally, the island’s air force is trained to shoot at single, stationary targets, per the intelligence seen by The Post.

One US assessment criticized Taiwan’s missile warning drills, describing them as highly scripted and unlikely to prepare civilians for a real attack, according to the outlet.

Still, an invading China faces constraints with supplying its army across the Taiwan Strait.

One of the leaked assessments highlighted that Beijing would need to somehow send gasoline to its landing assault force, and that its best bet would be capturing the Port of Taipei — though the analysts said neither Taiwan nor China has trained for such a scenario.

The leaked intelligence comes as US-China relations sour and as lawmakers in Washington signal closer ties to Taipei. Beijing has bristled as two US House Speakers personally met with Taiwan’s leader Tsai Ing-Wen in recent years, which it responded to by launching live-fire drills near Taiwan and posting a potential plan for attack.

The documents on Taiwan were among the hundreds of classified files leaked since late 2022 on the gaming chat platform Discord, per The Post. They emerged on the internet in March and February, and detailed alleged top-secret information about South Korea, Israel, Ukraine, and other nations.

It’s unclear how many of the documents contain genuine US intelligence. The contents of some files may have been fabricated or manipulated as they were passed around online, the governments of South Korea and Ukraine warned.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry’s press division did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. The Pentagon’s press department did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment sent outside regular business hours.

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