In the midst of annual military drills, Taiwan’s air force has intercepted nine military aircraft of the communist People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which departed the mainland coast and ran maneuvers near the island.
The mainland Chinese aircraft were tracked by missile defence systems, prompting the Republic of China (ROC) Airforce to send radio warnings and its own aircraft to repel the incoming task force, according to Taiwan’s defense ministry.
PLA intrusions yet again
Between 11:14 a.m. and 2:01 p.m. local time, six ROC broadcasts were reported to be made towards PLA military planes, detected by air traffic monitors in the island of Taiwan.
The China-based squadron had trespassed into the southwest corner of Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ). The PLA force was reported to have six J-16 fighter jets, two Y-8 planes (with one being an anti-submarine plane and the other a reconnaissance plane), and a KJ-5000 aerial detection plane.
The ROC’s defense authority claimed that the ADIZ had been trespassed 14 times in September alone. On Sept. 5, an incursion saw 19 PLA military aircraft fly through the ADIZ, prompting the same response of combat jets and military defence systems tracking down the force.
As the year closes, almost 400 PLA aircraft have been reported intruding into the ADIZ — up from around 380 in 2020.
Conversely, China has also warned the U.S., one of Taiwan’s important allies, over a U.S. Navy aircraft flying over the Bashi Channel, the waterway between the Philippines and Taiwan which also serves as China’s path to the Western Pacific.
As part of the 37th annual Han Kuang war games, Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen arrived at the ROC Air Force’s fifth wartime strip, which was to be used should all runways be destroyed in an invasion. During the event, Tsai saw several fighters, including an American-made F-16 plane, a French-made Mirage 2000 and an E-2 Hawkeye early warning aircraft land on the emergency runway.
Tsai wrote in a Facebook post commending the drills: “Such splendid combat skills and rapid and real actions come from solid everyday training and also demonstrate the confidence of the Republic of China Air Force in defending its airspace.”
The Han Kuang drills are performed to prepare the military for an attack by the communist-led PLA, ensuring that “critical infrastructure and night operations” are secured.
The ROC also plans to boost its military budget, intending to spend 240 billion Taiwan dollars ($8.69 billion) on defence for the next five years, urgently needing to upgrade its arsenal to face the threat of Beijing’s military drive.