Taiwan, claimed by China, has been complaining for a year or more about repeated Chinese Air Force missions near the democratically ruled island, often in the southwestern part of its air defense identification zone , or ADIZ, near the Pratas Islands controlled by Taiwan.
Over a four-day period beginning Oct. 1, when China celebrated its national day, Taiwan said nearly 150 PLA military planes entered its ADIZ, not into territorial airspace but into an area. wider than Taiwan is monitoring and patrolling which acts to give it more time to respond to any threats.
The latest Chinese mission included 18 fighter jets and five nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, as well as, unusually, a Y-20 mid-air refueling aircraft, the Taiwanese ministry said.
The bombers and six of the fighters flew south from Taiwan through the Bashi Channel that separates the island from the Philippines, then across the Pacific before returning to China, according to a map provided by the ministry.
These planes were accompanied by the refueling plane, suggesting that China refueled shorter-range fighters in flight, a skill that the country’s Air Force is still working to hone to enable it to project its power further from the Chinese coast.
Taiwan sent fighter jets to ward off Chinese planes, while missile systems were deployed to monitor them, the ministry said.
There was no immediate comment from China, which has in the past declared such measures to be exercises aimed at protecting the country’s sovereignty.