Taiwan’s air force scrambled yesterday against renewed military activity from the mainland, with defense officials reporting 19 aircraft – including nuclear-capable bombers – flew into their air defense identification zone.
Taipei has complained for more than a year of missions near the island, often near the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Island, which was the case this time. The latest mission involved 10 J-16 and four Su-30 fighters, four H-6 bombers, which can carry nuclear weapons, and an anti-submarine aircraft.
Combat aircraft were sent aloft and missile systems were activated, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said.
The last such large-scale activity, on June 15, involved 28 mainland aircraft, the largest group reported by Taiwan to date.
Beijing often mounts such missions to express displeasure at something Taiwan has done or at displays of international support for the island, especially by the United States, Taiwan’s main arms provider.
It was not clear what might have prompted the mainland to launch its aircraft this time, though a US warship and a US Coast Guard cutter sailed through the Taiwan Strait late in August.
Beijing has described its activities as necessary to protect the country’s sovereignty.
Taiwan defense officials warned last week that Beijing’s armed forces could “paralyze” their defenses.