Twenty-one Chinese warplanes flew into Taiwan’s air defense zone on Tuesday, the day House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taipei, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense.
The People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes — which included ten of its newer J-16 fighters, eight J-11 fighter jets, one KJ-500 airborne early warning, and control aircraft, one Y-9 electronic warfare plane, and one Y-8 transport aircraft — entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.
The Shenyang J-16 is an advanced fourth-generation fighter based on the Russian Sukhoi-30 fighter jet. The twin-jet, tandem-set fighter carries a 30 mm cannon, 12 air-to-air missiles, rockets, satellite-guided bombs, and anti-ship and anti-radiation missiles. A China-based military analyst previously told the South China Morning Post that the jet had “surely been primarily developed for assaults on Taiwan.”
The aircraft flew through the southwestern corner of the ADIZ, according to flight path maps posted on Twitter by Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense. On Monday, four J-16s flew along the line dividing the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan’s defense ministry said that patrol aircraft were tasked to respond, radio warnings were issued, and air- and missile-defense systems monitored the situation.
The warplanes’ entry into the ADIZ came the same day Pelosi visited Taiwan for a historic visit. She is the highest ranking US official to visit the self-governed island democracy in 25 years.
Prior to her visit, China, which has long claimed Taiwan as an inseparable part of Chinese territory, repeatedly warned it would take some form of military action if she visited the island, saying the People’s Liberation Army would “not sit idly by.”
After her arrival late Tuesday night, China announced that the PLA will hold “targeted military operations” around the island in response. The Chinese military will hold live-fire drills in six areas surrounding Taiwan from August 4 to 7, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency and state-affiliated Global Times.
Chinese media indicated that the drills, which began Tuesday night, would not only involve air and maritime exercises, but also the firing of conventional missiles and long-range artillery.
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