The air force scrambled again yesterday to warn away 27 Chinese aircraft that entered its air defense identification zone (ADIZ), the Ministry of National Defense said, the latest increase in tensions across the sensitive Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan has complained for a year or more of repeated missions by China’s air force near the nation, often in the southwestern part of its ADIZ, close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島).
Over a four-day period beginning on Oct. 1, when China marked its national day, Taiwan said that nearly 150 Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) military aircraft entered its ADIZ, not territorial airspace, but a broader area Taiwan monitors and patrols that acts to give it more time to respond to any threats.
The latest Chinese mission included 18 fighter jets plus five nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, as well as, unusually, a Y-20 aerial refueling aircraft, the ministry said.
The bombers and six of the fighters flew to the south of Taiwan into the Bashi Channel, which separates Taiwan proper from the Philippines, then out into the Pacific before heading back to China, according to a map the ministry provided.
Those aircraft were accompanied by the refueling aircraft, suggesting China refueled the shorter-ranged fighters inflight, a skill that China’s air force is still working to hone to enable it to project power further from China’s shores.
Taiwan sent combat aircraft to warn away the Chinese aircraft, while missile systems were deployed to monitor them, the ministry said.
There was no immediate comment from China, which has in the past said such moves were drills aimed at protecting the country’s sovereignty.
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