Sat, May 12, 2018 - Page 1 News List

PLAAF jets, bombers fly around Taiwan

By Aaron Tu and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A Russian Sukhoi Su-35 performs at the Dubai Air Show in United Arab Emirates on Nov. 13 last year.

Photo: AP

People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) spokesman Colonel Shen Jinke (申進科) yesterday said that the PLAAF had launched military aircraft from separate airbases under both the Eastern and Southern Theater Commands in a coordinated flight around Taiwan.

Of note was the inclusion of the PLAAF’s Su-35 jets and its first mission with its H-6K bombers, a derivative of the former Soviet Union’s Tupolev Tu-16, Shen said.

Beijing signed a US$2 billion contract with Moscow for 24 of the jets in November 2015, the first foreign export of the Sukhoi Su-35.

The first aircraft was delivered in December 2016.

The Su-35’s air and sea combat abilities far outstrip the Chengdu Aerospace Corp-produced J-20 fighter.

Chinese-language Asia-Pacific Defense magazine editor-in-chief Cheng Chi-wen (鄭繼文) said the F-16 Viper (F-16V) is the only combat aircraft in Taiwan’s arsenal capable of going toe-to-toe with the Su-35, but the F-16Vs have yet to take part in exercises since their upgrades, which began in January last year.

This is a negative factor for the nation’s overall defense strategy, he said.

Air Force Command Headquarters said Taiwan deployed its Indigenous Defense Fighters and F-16s to tail the Chinese aircraft.

The air force later added photographs to its Facebook page to show that it had effectively followed the movements of the Chinese aircraft.

Additional reporting by CNA

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