Thu, Apr 18, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Ministry confirms PLA drill’s aircraft, vessel tally

By Aaron Tu and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A Republic of China Air Force F-CK-1 Ching-kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter, bottom, shadows a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force Xian H-6K bomber near Taiwanese airspace in an undated photograph.

Photo courtesy of the Ministry of National Defense

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday confirmed that a long-range drill conducted by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Monday involved 24 aircraft and five naval vessels.

The aerial exercise reportedly involved four Xian H-6K bombers, a Shaanxi KJ-500 airborne early warning and control aircraft and a Shaanxi Y-9JB (GX-8) electronic warfare and surveillance airplane, as well as numerous Su-30 and J-11 fighter jets.

The contingent split along two routes after leaving a base in southern China, with one group passing through the Bashi Channel separating Taiwan from the Philippines and the other crossing the Miyako Strait near Japan’s Okinawa.

The aircraft returned to their base via the Bashi Channel, with the exception of the bombers, which returned via the Miyako Strait, the Ministry of National Defense said on Monday.

The Republic of China Air Force and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter jets to intercept the PLA Air Force bombers and fighters.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) confirmed the number of Chinese aircraft and vessels in a message posted on the foreign ministry’s Twitter account.

“Too bad, Beijing. We won’t bow to a bully,” he said.

Japanese media on Tuesday reported the passage of two Type 054A guided-missile frigates and one Type 903A replenishment ship through the Miyako Strait.

The Ministry of Natioanl Defense said that it refrains from reporting the number of PLA ships and aircraft passing near Taiwan, as it does not want to reveal its detection capabilities.

Monday’s drill took place while Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials were attending events marking the 40th anniversary of the US’ Taiwan Relations Act, the foreign ministry said on Twitter.

Local Chinese-language media have suggested that the drills were intended as a show of force for visiting US officials.

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