As tensions continue to rise over the Russian military build-up with its perceived threat to invade the Ukraine, in the Far East China continues to launch – almost daily – the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) deliberately into Taiwan’s internationally recognised Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ).
On 23 January, the PLAAF sent 39 military aircraft into Taiwan’s ADIZ: 24 Shenyang J-16 fighters; 10 x Chengdu J-10 fighters; 2 x Shaanxi Y-9 Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft; 2 x Shaanxi Y-8 (labelled as electronic intelligence aircraft by Taiwanese defence ministry); and one Xian H-6 bomber.
Big packages of aircraft like this have not been uncommon. On Monday 4 October 2021 Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence revealed that over 50 PLAAF aircraft had been recorder breaking into its ADIZ during daytime: 34 x J-16s; 2 x Sukhoi SU-30 fighters; 2 x Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft; 2 x KJ-500 airborne early warning (AEW&C) aircraft; and 12 x H-6 bombers.
Taiwan’s typical response to this is for the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) to launch a combat air patrol (CAP), issue radio warnings to the PLAAF formations breaking the boundaries of the ADIZ and deploying or making ready air defence missile systems.
Whether these air incursions are purely designed to intimidate the Taiwanese government, or whether there is a darker alternative motive behind them is open to debate. What is certain is that the PLAAF is gathering a clear picture of Taiwan’s detection capabilities and response times, as well as patterns in tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) used by ROCAF.
by Andrew Drwiega