Taiwan is celebrating Armed Forces Day today, including a light show at the iconic Taipei 101 skyscraper. But the celebrations that mark Taiwan’s victory over Japan in World War II are overshadowed by growing tensions with China. Beijing, which considers Taiwan its own territory, has intensified its military operations near the self-governing island nation in recent weeks.
Last month, China conducted a live-fire exercise off the coast of Taiwan, and this week, Taipei shot down what was thought to be a Chinese drone for the first time.
Beijing was outraged by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s August visit to the island and further angered by the Biden administration’s $1.1 billion (£950 million) arms deal with Taipei announced on Friday.
The US weapons package includes air-to-air missiles designed to help Taiwan defend against Chinese fighter jets, dozens of which strayed into Taiwan’s air defense zone in August.
Amid tensions, military experts compared the world’s best fighter jets.
The most advanced and most expensive fighter jet in the world is the F-22 Raptor made by Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
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Analysts generally agree that this fighter is the most advanced of its kind thanks to its impressive array of weapons.
Its potential weapons include one cannon, six medium-range air-to-air missiles and two short-range air-to-air missiles, or six 2,000-pound bombs and four air-to-air missiles.
At the same time, the aircraft is practically invisible to radar and can fly further than almost all of its counterparts.
The F-22’s 2002-mile range is second only to the Russian T-50 PAK FA Sukhoi, which has a maximum range of 2,474 miles.
The Russian fighter is capable of carrying one cannon and eight medium-range air-to-air missiles.
But military experts believe the F-22 would still be a superior aircraft if two jet planes collided head-on.
However, under the current conditions, a confrontation between Chinese and Taiwanese fighters will be more likely.
Amid tensions, Taiwan Defense Ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang said that Taipei will take advantage of the current situation to improve its military forces.
He said: “We will take this opportunity to test all the training we usually do and through this improve our current methods and increase our combat effectiveness.”
The Taiwan Air Force uses F-16V fighters that are superior to the Chinese J-20.
The aircraft can also travel slightly further than its Chinese counterparts without refueling.
A couple of weeks ago, Taiwan showed off its jets – the backbone of its air force – in a demonstration where they were equipped with American missiles.