In the past two days, multiple military aircraft of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army have briefly entered Taiwan airspace, prompting a reaction from the island’s own air force.
The Ministry of National Defense of Taiwan reported that during the flight of an air group of the Chinese air force composed of a strategic bomber Xian H-6 and its escort, several fighter jets crossed the central line in the Strait of Taiwan, which separates the two nations.
The F-16s of the Taiwanese Air Force (ROCAF) were scrambled for an interception. “Our fighter planes have responded appropriately by intercepting, and broadcasting a warning” to the intruding planes, said the Ministry. The Chinese fighter jets immediately complied and retreated. The Ministry notes that “during the entire long-distance sea training activities of the Communist Party of China, the national army can monitor and detect and handle the situation, protect the homeland security and its people.”
The incident was confirmed by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command. The “combat-ready patrol is completely legitimate and is the necessary action taken to address the current security situation across the Taiwan Strait and safeguard China’s sovereignty,” it explained in a statement. China does not recognize the sovereignty of Taiwan and thus considers the Strait as part of its territorial waters.
A day before, on February 9, 2020, several Chinese aircraft including some J-11 fighter jets had flown over the Bashi Canal, south of Taiwan. They were also intercepted by the ROCAF F-16s.
In January 2020, Taiwan lost an important element of its defense with a UH-60M Blackhawk helicopter crash. The helicopter that was transporting several officers, including Taiwan’s chief of the general staff, Shen Yi-ming. An investigation is still ongoing to determine the reasons behind the crash.