The US will sell Taiwan an advanced IRST tracking system to be installed on its F-16 fighter jets to counter China’s J-20 stealth fighter jets. Photo/REUTERS
TAIPEI – The United States (US) has approved the possible sale of an infrared search and track system (IRST) for F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan to counter China’s J-20 stealth fighter jets.
Reuters news agency, citing a Pentagon statement as saying the US State Department also approved another possible $500 million sale of equipment to the island.
Taiwan’s defense authority said the new advanced equipment will be used on its newest F-16V aircraft, increasing their ability to detect and track long-range targets and greatly increasing the effectiveness of air operations.
In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular press briefing on Thursday that Beijing asked the US to immediately cancel plans for arms sales and stop the dangerous trend of arming the island of Taiwan.
“China will take decisive and decisive action to safeguard its national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Wang said, as quoted by the Global Times.
Reuters claimed in its report that the F-16V fighter jets have advanced avionics, weapons and radar systems to better deal with China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLA), including its J-20 stealth fighter jet.
Chinese experts say the IRST system does have theoretical potential for detecting stealth aircraft, because unlike radar which uses reflected radio waves to find targets, IRST uses heat signals emanating from its target to detect them.
Stealth aircraft are designed to have a low level of radar observation, but infrared radiation can only be reduced, not eliminated.
However, they say, this does not make a 4.5 generation fighter such as the F-16V capable of rivaling a fifth generation fighter such as the J-20 in actual combat.