China launches 39 aircraft into Taiwan’s air defense zone one day after the US and Japan put on show of naval force in the Philippine Sea
- China flew 39 warplanes toward Taiwan in its largest such sortie of the new year, continuing a pattern the island answered by scrambling its own jets in response
- The formation Sunday night included 24 J-16 fighter jets and 10 J-10 jets, among other support aircraft and electronic warfare aircraft
- Launch came the same day U.S. Navy sailed two aircraft carriers and two amphibious assault ships alongside allies in the Philippine Sea
- Taiwan’s air force scrambled its own jets and tracked the Chinese People’s Liberation Army planes on its air defense radar systems
- Chinese pilots have been flying towards Taiwan on a near-daily basis in the past year and a half, since Taiwan’s government started publishing the data regularly
- The largest sortie was 56 warplanes on a single day last October
- The activity has generally been in the air space southwest of Taiwan and falls into what Taiwan’s military calls the air defense identification zone
- Taiwan and China split during a civil war in 1949, but China claims the island as its own territory
- Beijing opposes any action that would identify Taiwan as a sovereign state and has used diplomatic and military means to isolate and intimidate Taiwan
Taiwan lives under the constant threat of invasion by China, which sees the self-ruled, democratic island as part of its territory to eventually be reclaimed, by force if necessary.
The final quarter of 2021 saw a massive spike of incursions from China into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), with the biggest single day coming on October 4, when 56 Chinese warplanes entered the zone.
The island’s defense ministry said late Sunday it saw 39 warplanes from China enter Taiwan’s ADIZ – the second-largest number of incursions on record, which is shared with October 2 last year.
Chinese military personnel stand near a Chinese military’s J-10C airplane. China flew 39 warplanes including J-10 fighter jets toward Taiwan in its largest such sortie of the new year, continuing a pattern that the island has answered by scrambling its own jets in response
Ten US Navy ships, including aircraft carriers USS Carl Vinson and USS Abraham Lincoln, participated in exercises with Japan from January 17-22 ‘for effective deterrence and response’, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force tweeted Monday, pictured this weekend
It added that it scrambled its own aircraft to broadcast warnings on Sunday and deployed air defense missile systems to track the jets that entered its zone.
The warplanes included 24 J-16 fighters, which experts say are among China’s favorite jets for testing Taiwan’s air defenses, 10 J-10 fighters and one nuclear-capable H-6 bomber.
It remains unclear why China launched such a large single-day mission.
But the incursions come on the heels of the United States and Japan carrying out naval exercises in the Philippine Sea, an area that includes waters just east of Taiwan.
Ten US Navy ships, including aircraft carriers USS Carl Vinson and USS Abraham Lincoln, participated in exercises with Japan from January 17-22 ‘for effective deterrence and response’, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force tweeted Monday.
Taiwan only started regularly publicizing its data on air incursions in September 2020.
October remains the busiest month on record, with 196 incursions, 149 of which were made over just four days as Beijing marked its annual National Day.
The defense zone is not the same as Taiwan’s territorial airspace but includes a far greater area that overlaps with part of China’s own ADIZ.
The activity has generally been in the air space southwest of Taiwan and falls into what Taiwan’s military calls the air defense identification zone
Beijing has ramped up pressure on Taiwan since Tsai Ing-wen, pictured, was elected president in 2016, as she considers the island a sovereign nation and not part of ‘one China’
Beijing has ramped up pressure on Taiwan since Tsai Ing-wen was elected president in 2016, as she considers the island a sovereign nation and not part of ‘one China’.
Last year, Taiwan recorded 969 incursions by Chinese warplanes into its ADIZ, according to a database compiled by AFP — more than double the roughly 380 carried out in 2020.
Taiwan’s air force has suffered a string of fatal accidents in recent years as its ageing fleet is kept under constant pressure by China.
The air force temporarily grounded all F-16 fighters earlier this month after one of its most advanced F-16V jets crashed into the sea during a routine training mission, killing one pilot.