Review: Modern Taiwanese Air Power

Harpia Publishing has turned out to have a serious feeling for nailing the release date of their books to ensure they are highly relevant upon release, and their book Modern Taiwanese Air Power (ISBN 978-1-950394-03-6) continues this trend. The island republic (yes, that’s the reality, feel free to express differing opinions in some other comment field) has featured heavily in the headlines this summer, and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan has further increased the discussions surrounding the politics of the hotspot.

This isn’t a book about the greater political questions, but as these have shaped the ROCAF the general trends are discussed in both the six-page overview (brief but effective) of the history of the air force as well as mentioned when dealing with individual projects. From an aviation geek point of view, the varying political trends and shifting partnerships have lead to a fascinating mix of modern and outdated equipment from a number of different sources, domestic as well as foreign.

But while it is interesting to read up on the F-CK-1 (you there in the back! Yes, you, stop giggling!), the book is more than just a description of the different aircraft and systems in Taiwanese service. It also dives into the overall strategic and operational picture an air war would see, such as discussing the threat from mainland long-range missiles as well as Taiwanese ground-based air defences and offensive missile systems. Also discussed are the air surveillance and C3I-systems and datalinks involved. The authors, Roy Choo and Peter Ho, manages to provide a surprisingly hefty information package despite the book being on the thinner side for a Harpia volume (84 pages plus an appendix with all unit badges of the ROCAF). Featured is also a short discussion on the “Grey-zone warfare” conducted against the island and what it means for the ROCAF to have to keep scrambling aircraft in order to keep an eye on their ADIZ.

In general I’ve been very happy with the books put out by Harpia, even if there’s some cases where I’ve questioned some editorial choices. I am happy to say that Modern Taiwanese Air Power is an excellent addition to their current line-up not only for anyone interested in the motley collection of aircraft and capabilities the ROCAF has assembled, but also anyone more generally interested in the conflict stretching across the Taiwan Strait as the book provide a compact brief into how these capabilities are shaped by and in turn keep shaping the overall geostrategic situation. The biggest surprise was indeed how much information the authors managed to fit inside the relatively brief book, without making it feel like something obvious was being left out or that I am left with only half the picture. The book also sport excellent illustrations with high-class colour pictures and illustrations. And obviously, the book is an excellent companion to Harpia’s earlier books covering the different aviation arms of the mainland (see earlier reviews: [1], [2], and [3]).

Highly recommended.

The book was provided free of charge by Harpia Publishing for review purposes.