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China sends more warplanes into Taiwan’s defense zone; 93 in 3 days

Chinese J-16 fighter jet. (Ministry of National Defense of Taiwan, Released)
October 03, 2021

On Sunday, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) sent 16 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), continuing a trend of daily military flights around Taiwan that has continued for months but which seen a recent uptick in intensity in recent days. In the last three days, China has sent at 93 warplanes into Taiwan’s ADIZ.

The latest breach of Taiwan’s ADIZ saw 12 Chinese J-16 and Su-30 fighter jets, two Y-8 antisubmarine warfare (ASW) aircraft and two KJ-500 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft pass through the southwest section of Taiwan’s ADIZ.

The Ministry of National Defense for the Republic of China, the formal name of the Taiwanese government, tweeted, “16 PLA aircraft (J-16*8, SU-30*4, Y-8 ASW*2 and KJ-500 AEW&C*2) entered #Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ on October 3, 2021. Please check our official website for more information.”

China’s flight of 16 warplanes on Sunday comes a day after it sent a record 39 warplanes into Taiwan’s ADIZ on Saturday. That record-setting event came just one day after the previous record-setting day in which 38 Chinese military aircraft breached Taiwan’s ADIZ.

China has been flying military aircraft into Taiwan’s ADIZ on a near-daily basis for months now, but the deployment of 93 military aircraft in just three days represents an increase in the intensity of China’s military operations around Taiwan.

While Taiwan governs itself as an independent nation, China maintains its claim that Taiwan is Chinese territory. China has increasingly alluded to “reunification” with Taiwan and during the 100th anniversary celebrations of the founding of its ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Chinese leader Xi Jinping said China would defeat Taiwanese independence “schemes.” He also warned that any country that tries to interfere with China’s affairs will have their “heads bashed bloody.” China has also practiced amphibious military landings like the kind that will likely be needed to invade the island.

In response to this latest breach of its ADIZ, the Taiwanese military said it issued radar warnings, activated its missile defense systems and deployed its own aircraft to respond.

The months of near-constant Chinese military flights around Taiwan are part of an apparent effort to exhaust Taiwan’s smaller air force.

Taiwan grounded its fleet of F-16 fighter jets in November and grounded its fleet of F-5 fighter jets in March after separate fatal crashes.

In February, President Joe Biden’s administration vowed to deepen ties with Taiwan in the face of continued Chinese operations around the island.

“We will stand with friends and allies to advance our shared prosperity, security, and values in the Indo-Pacific region — and that includes deepening our ties with democratic Taiwan,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.

In August, Biden approved his first transfer of U.S. weapons to Taiwan — 40 155mm M109A6 Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer artillery systems.