Record 38 Chinese PLA Aircraft Enter Taiwan’s Air Defense Zone

BEIJING - OCTOBER 01: Planes from the Chinese People's Liberation Army air force fly in formation during a massive parade to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 2009 in Beijing, China. The grand celebrations to commemorate the 60th anniversary of …
Feng Li/Getty Images

A record-breaking 38 Chinese military aircraft penetrated Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on Friday, forcing the island to deploy its air defense missile system to monitor the incursion, Taiwan News reported.

China’s People’s Liberation Army Airforce (PLAAF) ordered two separate incursions into Taiwan’s airspace on October 1. The PLAAF deployed a total of 38 aircraft to violate Taiwan’s ADIZ on Friday, which is the highest-ever such figure recorded in a single day.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) published two reports on October 1 documenting the twin PLAAF intrusions, which took place hours apart. According to the first report, the Chinese Air Force first deployed “18 Shenyang J-16 fighter jets, four SU-30 jets, two Xian H-6 bombers, and one Shaanxi Y-8 anti-submarine warfare (Y-8 ASW) plane” to enter the southwest corner of Taiwan’s ADIZ.

A short time later, the PLAAF sent another detachment to fly through “a much larger swathe of the southwestern section of the ADIZ,” according to Taiwan News. This unit included “10 Shenyang J-16 fighter jets, two Xian H-6 bombers, and one KJ-500 airborne early warning and control aircraft.”

Taiwan’s Air Force responded to both ADIZ violations by dispatching air patrol aircraft to monitor the activity, broadcasting radio warnings to the Chinese planes, and deploying its anti-aircraft missile system to track and monitor the incursions.

Taiwan was last forced to track Chinese planes with anti-aircraft missiles on September 23, just seven days before the October 1 intrusion. In an echo of Friday’s events, the Chinese military last week sent two separate air detachments to fly through the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s ADIZ on the same day.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration defines an ADIZ as “an area of airspace over land or water in which the ready identification, location, and control of all aircraft … is required in the interest of national security.”

Taiwan is an island nation located off the southeast coast of China. It functions independently under its own government and commands its own military. Despite Taiwan’s evident sovereignty, China’s government considers the island a renegade province and has vowed to “reunify” Taiwan with its mainland.

Beijing has ramped up a strategic military intimidation of Taiwan over the past several months. Much of its energy has focused on flying incessant air sorties across the Taiwan Strait, which separates China from Taiwan. China’s PLAAF dispatched aircraft to fly through Taiwan’s ADIZ 283 times in the first quarter of 2021. This figure accounts for 75 percent of the total recorded tally for 2020.

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