TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- In response to recent Chinese media reports that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is setting up an "air assault brigade" of 100 helicopters to carry troops that could reach Taiwan within one hour, an American military trainer privately told Taiwanese army officers that they would not dare fly into Taiwan's airspace because the threat to helicopters would be much greater than in Afghanistan.
Recently, military expert Sung Chao-wen (宋兆文) said that even if the PLA's assault brigade had 1,000 helicopters, they would all be destroyed. Sung said that Taiwan's air defenses are so powerful that they are known around the world, and are completely capable of destroying a brigade of invading enemy helicopters, reported Liberty Times
Storm Media reports that a U.S. Army officer, who had served in multiple tours piloting Apache helicopters in theaters including Afghanistan, said privately to Taiwanese military officials that although helicopters flying in Afghanistan could be subject to surprise rocket attacks from the ground, it would be nothing compared to what they would face in the skies over Taiwan. He said that invading helicopters approaching Taiwan would face multiple layers of anti-aircraft firepower from both sea and land and from long range and short range, with the threat of being shot down "terrifyingly high," and that if he was a PLA pilot, he would not dare take the risk.
The report mentions that in addition to the various types of anti-aircraft missiles on the ground, Taiwan has "invisible killers" such as high-voltage electric towers and cables everywhere due tot he rugged terrain. When Typhoon Morakot struck Taiwan in 2009, the U.S. military sent helicopters to provide aid in Taiwan, but they insisted that Taiwanese pilots guide them in the skies over the island because of the many hazards they could encounter.
A Taiwanese military official conceded that the PLA's helicopter fleet has indeed increased in size, but Chinese media has failed to mention the ground artillery and missiles that would be awaiting the helicopters in Taiwan. Even before they reached Taiwan, they would first have to deal with concealed patrol boats and even fishing boats from which FIM-92 Stinger shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles could be fired from at any time.
Large formations of helicopters flying over the Taiwan Strait would be highly vulnerable to direct attack from numerous anti-aircraft systems, even if they chose the narrowest point, which is still 130 kilometers across, said the official.