Spearheaded by new indigenously developed or improved fighters and bombers, such as the Chengdu J-10, China is building up its capability to use force against Taiwan while making it harder for the USA to come to the defence of the island nation.
That is a conclusion of the US Department of Defense's latest analysis of Chinese military power, submitted to Congress at the beginning of March. The report highlights the increasing capability of Beijing's air and air defence forces
A growing percentage of the 490 combat aircraft based within unrefueled range of Taiwan are newer, more advanced types, claims the Pentagon.
See this video of a J-10 in action
These include the indigenously developed F-16-class J-10, which is to be joined by the more-capable Shenyang J-11B, a Chinese-developed upgrade of the Sukhoi Su-27SK.
The report also highlights the modernised Xi'an JH-7A fighter-bomber, whcih can carry precision weapons including the YJ-91 anti-radiation missile as well as TV-guided missiles and laser-guided bombs.
China is also upgrading its Xi'an H-6 bomber fleet with a new variant, the H-6K, featuring new engines, a glass cockpit and six underwing pylons for what the DoD says is a new long-range cruise missile.
The Pentagon claims China is increasing the capability of its air force with Russian-supplied Ilyushin Il-78 aerial refueling tankers as well as developing several types of airborne early warning and control aircraft, including the Xi'an KJ-2000 based on the Russian Beriev A-50 and the indigenous Shaanxi KJ-200 based on the Y-8 transport.
Beijing is also equipping its armed forces with new air-launched and surface-launched missiles, long-range unmanned air vehicles and unmanned combat air vehicles, the Pentagon report says.