Taiwan scrambles F-16 fighters to monitor Chinese warplanes

02/09/2020 09:20 PM
Taiwan
Taiwan's F-16 fighter (left) flies alongside China's H-6 bomber (right) /photo courtesy of the Ministry of National Defense

Taipei, Feb. 9 (CNA) Taiwan scrambled F-16 fighter jets to monitor the movement of Chinese military planes that circled half of Taiwan on Sunday morning, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said later that day.

The Chinese planes, consisting of J-11 jet fighters, KJ-500 early warning aircraft and H-6 bombers, flew near the eastern side of Taiwan at 11 a.m., according to a MND statement that did not disclose the number of Chinese planes involved.

Taiwan's air force responded by scrambling the missile-carrying F-16s to follow the Chinese planes, as well as mobilizing other surveillance and air defense assets, the MND said.

A photo taken during the incident showing a Taiwanese F-16 flying alongside a Chinese H-6 was released by the MND.

According to the ministry, the Chinese planes, which carrying out a long-distance training mission, flew through the Bashi Channel to the south of Taiwan and into the western Pacific Ocean before returning to their bases via the Miyako Strait to the northeast of Taiwan.

"The Chinese People's Liberation Army's (PLA) long-distance flights have impacted the safety and stability of the region and have threatened the peace among related parties in the region," the statement said.

The MND urged the public to stay calm, stressing that it is in full control of enemy's threats and is protecting the national sovereignty and the safety of the Taiwanese people.

A report carried on the China Military Online confirmed the drill, quoting Zhang Chunhui (張春暉), a spokesperson of the PLA's Eastern Theater Command.

China's military has the resolve and the ability to quell any attempts by Taiwan to separate from China, Zhang said, adding the communist line that Taiwan and its adjacent islands are inalienable parts of China.

China has carried out an increasing number of drills around Taiwan since Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) first took office in 2016.

Based on MND records, the last time the Chinese military carried out a long-distance flight mission was on Jan. 23, when KJ-500s and H-6s flew close to Taiwan's southern coast, into the Western Pacific, and then headed back to China on the same flight path.

(By Matt Yu and Emerson Lim)

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