Modern Taiwanese Air Power

...The Republic of China Air Force Today, from Harpia Publishing, via Casemate

Title: Modern Taiwanese Air Power
Author: Roy Choo and Peter Ho
Publisher: Harpia Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-950394-03-6

Subtitled The Republic of China Air Force Today this recent book from Harpia is rather appropriate as we are regularly seeing the subject of Taiwan and its' larger Chinese neighbour in the news as tensions between them seem to be warming up once more. As a result, this 94-page soft-cover book will make some topical reading. A key element of this book, as with other Harpia books, is the very high quality of the many photographs which illustrate the chapters throughout the book. These show some really beautiful aircraft and with great detail of colour schemes, markings and weaponry.
The book is split into 5 quite straightforward sections. It begins with the history of the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF), which started out as the air arm of Nationalist China, before the success of the Communist revolution after the end of WW2 pushed it out of the Chinese mainland, to the island of Taiwan. It includes their involvement outside of Taiwan, in the formation of the independent Air Force of Singapore, and during the 1980s, in the deserts of North Yemen. After the history, it next moves on to the ROCAF Today, which includes the basic organisation, ground defence systems and the current Order of Battle with their bases, units and aircraft. Chapter 3 looks at Air Power and Strategy over the Taiwan Straits. This looks at the mix of factors, including the threats posed by the PLA (Peoples Liberation Army) of mainland China and the options that Taiwan chooses to take to counter that threat. It also includes consideration of the development of their own aircraft, a path they had to take as the potential of losing access to US built equipment has appeared. Chapter 4 starts with an explanation of the ROCAF tail codes and then details of each aircraft type they operate. These include trainers, transports, helicopters, maritime patrol, fighters and more. That leaves the final chapter to look at the future aircraft programmes, including unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). That leaves room for a closing Appendix, consisting of 5 pages of colour artwork showing all the various unit badges, with Commands, Bases and individual squadrons.
I found it a little awkward to read this without thinking about the recent news of tensions escalating between the two Chinas once again. Considering the many years now since the revolution in mainland China and the two countries managing to live side by side in peace, I can't help but feel rather sad that they can't get over their differences. China itself is a huge and powerful economy these days, does it really need to threaten its' smaller neighbour or is it more of a method of distraction from other issues in their own politics. Meanwhile, Taiwan has clearly made a considerable investment in their own air defence forces. This gives a great look at the history, the organisation and the assortment of aircraft types which they operate today. With the artwork and the superb photographic images, this is a great resource for modellers who might be interested in a collection themed on the subject of the ROCAF.
Thanks to Harpia and their UK distributors, Casemate, for our review copy.

Robin