A US military reconnaissance aircraft yesterday reportedly flew near Taiwan’s southern airspace, the same day the Ministry of National Defense confirmed that Chinese military aircraft had been seen southwest of the nation.
A US RC-135U Combat Sent was operating in the South China Sea, a flight chart posted on Twitter yesterday morning by military flight tracker Aircraft Spots showed.
Ministry spokesman Major General Shih Shun-wen (史順文) said that the armed forces are closely monitoring the nation’s surrounding waters and airspace, but did not confirm the aircraft’s movements.
Charts released by Aircraft Spots and Taiwan’s own records show that the latest mission sortie was the sixth time since March 25 that a US military aircraft was found to have been operating near Taiwan’s airspace.
The first three occurrences happened between March 25 and 27, while the fourth and fifth took place on March 31 and Wednesday.
Institute of National Defense and Security Research senior analyst Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲) said that the RC-135U’s flight near the Bashi Channel, between Taiwan and the Philippines, and into the South China Sea might have been to monitor unusual activity by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in the area.
Also yesterday, the ministry confirmed that several Chinese J-11 fighters, KJ-500 airborne early warning and control aircraft, and H-6 bombers earlier in the day flew over waters southwest of Taiwan and then into the Bashi Channel.
Soon after entering the airspace over the channel, the aircraft returned to their base along the same route, the ministry said, but it did not disclose where the planes were based.
The sortie was the sixth time this year that Chinese military aircraft were seen operating near Taiwan’s airspace this year.
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