Review by Simon Jakubowski.
It’s an established fact now that Harpia Publishing are world leaders in what they produce: detailed, well written, in-depth analyses of air power from around the world, offering readers trusted and factual material. I may be wrong, of course, and you’re free to argue that statement but, from what I’ve experienced so far, there aren’t any books quite like Harpia’s. With this in mind, I present a review of Modern Taiwanese Air Power which I’ve found one of the most compelling reads in quite a while.
In the past few years, many people have been made aware of China’s various power plays on the world stage; even if military/political subjects aren’t something they generally follow, it’s quite clear China wishes to be a dominant global superpower in all respects. One country that has been a focal point for Beijing’s planners is, of course, the island nation of Taiwan lying a mere 180 kilometres off mainland China’s coast and a territory they would like back under Chinese rule.
The book is obviously centred on the air defence elements that protect Taiwanese (the Republic of China or ROC) interests and the authors have produced a sterling piece of work on the subject of how this relatively small nation stands its ground against such a large potential threat. The breadth of detail is superb and the country’s air arm (ROCAF) has quite a diverse range of aircraft, including American, French, Dutch and indigenous types, which is a fact that invites further study on its own, but this title also explains how the ROC has managed to equip and upgrade over the years despite an ever-changing geo-political climate and internal bureaucracy. The country seems to have been in a sort of Cold War stand-off with China since the crisis of 1995–96, when tensions threatened to turn into actual military action. Much of how the ROCAF is structured and operates today is clearly explained and, along with the use of some map graphics and the usual high-quality photographs you’d expect from Harpia, the reader gets a very clear picture of the current state of play.
This title has been extremely educational as I’ve read pieces about how China has been conducting ‘intimidation’ operations against Japan and Vietnam. This is the first I’d had on what was happening with Taiwan and, again, I applaud the authors’ efforts here as the writing is crisp, clear and informative. I haven’t read all of Harpia’s titles, but Modern Taiwanese Air Power reinforces my opinion of the publisher as a tier one source of information.