Dozens of Chinese planes breach Taiwan’s air defense zone

On Sunday, just three weeks into 2022, Beijing launched its largest military aircraft sortie to Taiwan since last October. The People’s Liberation Air Force (PLAAF) thirty-nine fighter jet formation included twenty-four J-16s, ten J-10 fighter jets and a mix of other support aircraft and electronic warfare. At least one nuclear-capable H-6 bomber would also have been among the planes that took part in Sunday’s sortie.

According to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry, PLAAF planes entered the island nation’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). The Chinese incursion came just a day after the US Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force staged a show of force in the Philippine Sea that included a flotilla of two US aircraft carriers, two amphibious assault ships Americans and a Japanese helicopter destroyer.

Operations included USS Carl Vinson and USS abraham lincoln Carrier Strike Groups, Carrier Air Wings nine and two, and the USS America and USS Essex Ready Amphibious Ready Groups, United States Navy announcement via social media on Sunday. Two US missile cruisers and five destroyers were also part of the exercise.

“Freedom at its finest! Nothing reaffirms our commitment to a #FreeandOpenIndoPacific like 2 Carrier Strike Groups, 2 Amphibious Ready Groups sailing alongside our close friends the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force”, tweeted Vice Admiral Karl Thomas, Commander of the US 7th Fleet, while sharing images of the flotilla as well as US and Japanese aircraft. The US Navy did not report how close the flotilla was to Taiwan.

Business as usual for Beijing

China has increased its aircraft sorties near Taiwan, and the last quarter of 2021 has seen a massive increase in the number of incursions into Taiwan’s ADIZ. On October 4, a record fifty-six Chinese PLAAF fighter jets entered the area.

October 2021 also remains the busiest month on record in terms of Chinese incursions. China carried out 196 incursions in October, including 149 during the four days following the People’s Republic of China’s “National Day” celebrations. A total of 969 incursions were carried out by Chinese fighter jets in 2021. The nearly 1,000 PLAAF incursions carried out in 2021 almost tripled the number of incursions carried out in 2020, the first year in which Taipei regularly communicated data on aerial incursions.

However, it is important to note that Taiwan’s ADIZ is not the same as the island’s territorial airspace. This is a much larger area that actually overlaps with part of the continent’s ADIZ.

Taiwan and mainland China have been governed separately since the defeat of Nationalist forces by the Communists at the end of the Chinese Civil War.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to over four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites. He writes regularly on military small arms and is the author of several books on military headgear, including A gallery of military hairstyleswhich is available on Amazon.com.

Picture: Reuters.

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