Taiwan's Best Fighter Jet Compared to China's J-20 Mighty Dragon

In response to Beijing's air drills in the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan unveiled its most advanced jet on Wednesday, carrying out its own drills with the F-16V fighters.

"In the face of the threat from Chinese communist forces' recent military exercises, we have stayed vigilant while establishing the concept of 'battlefields everywhere and training anytime'... to ensure national security," Taiwan's air force said in a statement.

According to the force, six U.S.-made F-16Vs—including two armed with missiles—took off for a training mission from the Haulien Air Force Base late Wednesday night local time. The jets were first deployed by Taiwan in November, after the deal was approved by the Trump administration.

Taiwan's defense against China's air threats come after weeks of drills in the median zone separating mainland China from the island. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has staged a series of air missions after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan this month.

Taiwan China Fighter Jets
A Taiwanese F-16 Fighting Falcon lands at Hualien Air Force Base on August 6, 2022, in Hualien, Taiwan. In response to Beijing's air drills in the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan unveiled its most advanced jet on Wednesday, carrying out its own drills with the F-16V fighters. Annabelle Chih/Stringer

"We will seize this opportunity to test all the training we normally do, and through this improve our current methods and raise our combat effectiveness," said Sun Li-fang, a spokesperson for Taiwan's defense ministry.

Taipei has accused Beijing of using Pelosi's trip to legitimize the recent drills involving China's fighter jets, which could be used for an invasion of Taiwan's air space.

China's most powerful fighter jets are the J-20 Mighty Dragons. While Beijing deployed 150 of their strongest jets in June of 2021, the recent drills used 16 Su-30 fighters and 11 other jets.

A comparison of China's and Taiwan's top fighters:

Speed and fuel

Taiwan's F-16Vs can fly as fast as 1,500 mph, outpacing China's J-20, which has a maximum speed of 1,321 mph.

The island's fighter jets also have a slightly further travel range, able to fly more than 2,002 miles before needing to stop to refuel, according to Taiwan's air force. Aviation website Executive Flyers shows that J-20s have an estimated range of right at 2,002 miles.

When it comes to fuel capacity, the F-16Vs carries significantly less fuel with a capacity of 5,443 kilograms, including two external tanks, compared to 25,000 kilograms for Beijing's Mighty Dragons.

Size

Taiwan's U.S.-made jets are a little smaller than PLA's fighters, which might make them easier to maneuver in the air. The F-16Vs have a length of 14.8 meters and a height of 4.8 meters. On the other hand, J-20s average 20.4 meters long and 4.45 meters tall, according to the China Power Project.

The Taiwanese planes also have a smaller wingspan of 9.8 meters, compared with the roughly 13-meter wingspan of Beijing's jets.