Taiwan has accused China of a huge military incursion in its air defence identification zone (ADIZ), saying that at least 19 Chinese military aircraft, including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers were detected on Sunday.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said they issued radio warnings to the crews after they tracked the 19 planes including ten J-16 and four Su-30 fighters, as well as four H-6 bombers, which can carry nuclear weapons, and an anti-submarine aircraft.
An air defence identification zone is airspace over land or water that provides an early warning system to help a country detect possible incursions into its sovereign airspace. It stretches beyond the boundary of a country’s national airspace and allows a country to scramble fighter jets to visually identify if the aircraft poses a threat when it enters an ADIZ without warning.
The ministry added that they dispatched combat aircraft to warn the Chinese planes and deployed the missile defence system to monitor them. The defence ministry also released a map that showed that the Chinese aircraft flew in an area closer to the Chinese than the Taiwanese coast, roughly northeast of the Pratas.
In the last few months, Taiwan has repeatedly complained about missions by China’s air force near the island, mainly in the southwestern part of its air defense zone closer to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.
While China undertakes such missions as a way to express displeasure over comments made by Taiwan, the reason behind mounting this mission is unclear as China has so far not issued a statement on the matter. The incursion comes shortly after the US warship and US Coast Guard cutter sailed through the Taiwan Strait.
Earlier on 15 June, about 28 Chinese air force planes, including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers entered the ADIZ after G7 leaders issued a joint statement criticizing China on a range of issues and reiterated the need for peace and stability across Taiwan Strait.
On 12 April, about 25 jets entered Taiwan’s air defence zone while on 24 January, China sent 15 warplanes into the Taiwan Strait.
Additional reporting from wires