The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) reportedly sent nearly 200 aircraft to the aerial area near the island of Taiwan for exercises in October, in a move that experts said on Monday has deterred Taiwan.
During the drills, the PLA broke the record on several occasions and dispatched attack and transport helicopters for the first time.
On Sunday, the last day of October, eight PLA aircraft, namely one Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft, six J-16 fighter jets and one KJ-500 early warning aircraft, entered the island of Taiwan’s self-proclaimed southwest air defense identification zone, with the Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft also flying southeast of the island through the Bashi Channel, the island’s defense authorities said in a press release.
This brought the PLA aircraft activity tally in October to 196, according to Taipei-based news website ettoday.net. This included the record-breaking 38 aircraft on October 1, 39 on October 2 and 56 on October 4.
The total amount this year has reached about 700, with only 380 last year, according to the island’s defense authorities.
Also on Sunday, two Y-9 patrol aircraft and one Y-9 reconnaissance aircraft flew through the Miyako Strait from the East China Sea into the Pacific Ocean east to the island of Taiwan, before returning home via the same routes, according to a press release seen on the website of Japan’s ministry of defense joint staff.
Prior to some of the large PLA drills in early October, warships from the US, the UK, Japan, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand held exercises in the Philippines Sea, and some of them entered the South China Sea through the Bashi Channel south to the island of Taiwan, according to monitoring conducted by the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative, a Beijing-based think tank.
Taiwan regional leader Tsai Ing-wen also made a series of provocative remarks in October, including the “two states theory” in her October 10 speech and the first formal confirmation of US troop presence on the island Tsai made on Thursday.
It is normal for the PLA to increase the scale and composition of exercises near the island of Taiwan to deter Taiwan secessionists and foreign interference, and to safeguard China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity, a Chinese mainland military expert told the Global Times on Monday, requesting anonymity.
On October 26, the PLA for the first time dispatched a Mi-17 cargo helicopter and a WZ-10 attack helicopter to the region, media on the island reported.
The participation of helicopters, which need cover from fixed-wing aircraft but can take off and land vertically and hover, might mean the PLA has started the next phase in exercises by practicing multidimensional amphibious assault and landing after gaining air superiority and control of the sea regions, the above-quoted expert said to Global Times.