Thirteen Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone from 6am on Thursday to 6am yesterday, including a drone that almost circumnavigated Taiwan proper, the Ministry of National Defense said.
Flight path information released by the ministry showed the CH-4 drone flying clockwise off the northern coast of Taiwan then traveling south. It was not shown flying northward to the west of the nation.
It was the third instance that Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drones have been detected on the eastern boundary of Taiwan’s air defense zone after drones were spotted on April 28 and May 3 on slightly different flight paths, the ministry said.
An air defense identification zone is a region beyond a country’s territorial airspace, within which identification, location and air traffic control is required by a country for national security purposes.
The CH-4 “Rainbow” is an 8.5m-long, 18m wide reconnaissance and combat drone that China claims can fire air-to-ground missiles and fly at an altitude of 5,000m, making it difficult to bring down with standard anti-aircraft weapons.
The other PLA aircraft that entered Taiwan’s zone between 6am on Thursday and 6am yesterday were two other drones — a TB-001 and a BZK-005 — two Su-30s, six J-10s and one J-16, which are all fighter jets, and a Y-8 electronic warfare aircraft, the ministry said.
All of them, except the Y-8 and J-16, crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, while the J-10s and Su-30s remained close to the line before turning back, the flight paths showed.
The TB-001 and BZK-005 drones flew to the south and southeast in a counterclockwise direction relative to Taiwan, the flight data showed.
In addition to the aircraft that entered the zone, 19 other PLA planes and four vessels were detected in the region during the 24-hour period, the ministry said.
Taiwan dispatched aircraft and vessels to shadow the Chinese craft and locked onto them with land-based missiles, it said.
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