The bottom line is that Chinese air support will be compromised by three aerial tankers if they invade Taiwan. US airpower will degrade its initial blitzkrieg, and its units will be attacked by other US assets.
If China does invade Taiwan and it takes too long, then it will be harder with US Forces coming to Taiwan's aid. This scenario will give the combined PLAN and PLA Air Force efforts into an unwanted power clash with warfighting units of the American military already wanting to teach Beijing a lesson, reported in Forbes.
China talks big but they lack tankers and launching catapults.
The PLA Air force and the PLAN are into saber-rattling but it is all for show because they lack keys to air domination. Critical equipment like tankers and catapult launch are vital components to getting a potent strike force for modern combat.
Air tankers give US fighters a longer range to loiter in the air and take down targets. American carriers with catapults will launch more fueled up and ordnance loaded fighters. It is this lack of equipment that worries top Chinese brass. Investment in anti-ship missiles is the fear of dangerously engaging US Forces.
To make it simple, the Chinese planes will have a shorter operational range with only three tankers. Another is the limited fuel and lighter weapons load out that will put them at the mercy of US combat air patrols (CAPs).
PLA army asset cannot survive without air support that will be interdicted by the US Air Force. But, Beijing is not doing enough to stop a massacre of their forces, which is so little.
Strategists expect the PLA to land forces in the southwestern plain of Taiwan, as the invasion starting point. But Penghu Garrison even if circumvented will see missiles hitting the two-carrier invasion fleet at its flanks.
Should Beijing choose to take out Penghu Island, the Taiwan garrison can hold off the PLA long enough to get the US Air Force wing at Japan to reinforce them. Next, the US Navy will scramble its carrier strike groups (CSGs) from Japan and the US to reinforce Taiwan.
A battle in the East to the South China Sea will have the US Force reinforcements using aerial tankers to send up more planes longer. As a result, there will be withering Chinese air support in the Taiwan invasion.
The PLA Air Force will suffer more bailouts due to fewer air tankers, and another is a possible turkey shoot with an American plane with more weapons. Sino aircraft carriers with ski jumps cannot send loaded planes without a deck catapult.
Why air tankers are key to air superiority
Both land-based strike and support craft from Kadena, Japan will benefit from American KC-135s that will fuel cap patrols, taking out PLA planes in the East China Sea, edges of South China with Yellow Seas.
China has 1000 plus jet fighters but only three air tankers, also known as sitting duck.
China can't invade Taiwan that easy from its deficiencies in aerial tanker support and getting planes fully loaded up with not even a steam catapult. Yes, the Chinese can attack with ICBMs and missiles but once the US planes are up, then Chinese forces will rue it.