Republic of China Air Force
Taiwan's geographical location makes air defense critical for overall defense of the nation. The Taiwan Air Force (TAF) has shrunk from roughly 55,000 to 45,000 personnel during the ching shih reforms, while preserving its basic organizational structure, aircraft fleet size, and defensive counter-air mission focus. TAF officers are highly professional and hard-working. The TAF exhibits ingenuity in its use and maintenance of older hardware. The TAF senior leadership is moving to rectify highly publicized pilot shortages by extending minimum terms of service, offering large bonuses, and enlarging the pool of prospective pilot applicants. Although outnumbered by the PLAAF and PLANAF, TAF weapons systems and training qualitatively surpass those of their cross-Strait peers. However, TAF personnel - especially its fighter pilot corps - reportedly are overworked. Pilot training continues to focus on the defensive counter-air mission. However, dissimilar air combat training is rarely practiced.
The Air Force General Headquarters is responsible for the Air Force's combat strength and commands and supervises all subordinate troops and units. The units include the Air Force Operations Command , the Air Force Logistics Command , the Air Defense Artillery Command , and various tactical wings. Under the wing in descending order are the group , squadron , and flight. Personnel are divided into operational and logistical support systems under the command of the Air Force GHQ.
The Chinese Air Force Academy (CAFA) trains pilots for jet fighters and other combat and transport aircraft. Cadets learn aeronautic navigation, combat tactics, and related skills in a program that lasts four years. They participate in supervised flight operations during their second year. At the beginning of their junior year, cadets are divided into five sections to receive specialized training in flight skills, aeronautic machinery, electronic communication, anti-aircraft warfare, and air control.
The main operational units in the ROC Air Force include the following:
- 6 tactical combat aircraft wings;
- 1 transport/anti-submarine wing;
- 1 tactical control wing;
- 1 communication and ATC wing;
- 1 weather forecasting wing; and
- 1 air-defense artillery guards command, comprising
- 4 commands,
- 14 air defense artillery battalions, and
- 11 guard battalions.
The Taiwan Air Force is organized in a Wing / Group / Squadron structure patterned on that of the United States Air Force. Evidently, the transition to the newer generation of aircraft is resulting in a reduction in the nominal squadron strength from 24 to 20 aircraft. When the current unit equipment transition is completed in 2000, each Wing will operate a single type of aircraft, with one Mirage 2000 wing, two IDF wings, two F-16 wings, and two wings retaining the older F-5. Inventory listings do not reflect aircraft losses, which to date have include four F-16s and two Mirage 2000 aircraft.
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