China claims that the PLA Air Force had scrambled Su-30 fighter jets to expel US spy planes from the South China Sea region in May 2020, according to state-owned Global Times.
The report comes on a day when Taiwan said a Chinese military aircraft had allegedly flown into its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on June 20, making it the ninth Chinese incursion this month.
The frequency of Chinese incursions into Taiwan has increased as Beijing’s relations with the West, particularly, the US, have nosedived in the wake of criticisms from G-7 and NATO. These two forums recently issued statements lambasting China and “its assertive behavior”.
PLA released clip of an interception over the South China Sea in May 2020. At that time, some B-1B bombers conducted several operations over the South China Sea as part of BTF mission. There is rare footage of Chinese fighter jets flying over Mischief Reef in this clip. pic.twitter.com/VOadLDro9x
— Duan Dang (@duandang) June 20, 2021
Possibly to counter this, the Chinese media has now published reports on PLA fighter jets driving away foreign spy planes from the South China Sea region, which Beijing claims as its territory.
Chinese Incursions Into Taiwan
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defence (MND) reported that China’s Shaanxi Y-8 anti-submarine warfare plane intruded into the island’s ADIZ on June 20. To counter the intrusion and track the Chinese aircraft, Taiwan deployed its aircraft and air defense missile systems.
China has increased what it is called the ‘gray zone tactics’ or a “series of efforts beyond steady-state deterrence and assurance that attempts to achieve one’s security objectives without resorting to direct and sizable use of force,” according to experts.
The MND data shows that Taiwan’s air space was violated by China repeatedly — 18 times in May, 22 times in April, 18 times in March, 17 times in February, and 27 times in January.
On June 15, in the largest Chinese incursion since April 12, at least 28 Chinese military aircraft, including J-16 fighter jets, intruded into Taiwan’s ADIZ, The Eurasian Times had reported.
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry claimed “28 Chinese air force aircraft, including one Shaanxi Y-8 anti-submarine warfare plane, four Xian H-6 bombers, one Shaanxi Y-8 electronic warfare aircraft, two Shaanxi KJ-500 airborne early warning and control aircraft, 14 Shenyang J-16 fighter jets, and six Shenyang J-11 fighter jets, violated Taiwan’s predefined area’.
Three days later, seven Chinese warplanes again intruded Taiwan’s ADIZ, which prompted the island nation to issue air defense warnings and to deploy its missile systems.
The PLA Southern Theater Command Air Force deployed its fighter jets to engage some foreign military aircraft that were spotted conducting close-in reconnaissance over Chinese territory in May 2020, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on June 19.
According to Global Times, a PLAAF pilot, Lu Geng, led the formation to engage the hostile aircraft and succeeded in expelling them. The warplanes Lu and his group flew were Su-30 fighter jets, the CCTV report said.
“If [they] had started the fight, I would fight. Pilots are ready all the time, and there was nothing to hesitate about,” Lu was quoted as saying.
Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, has accused the US of sending spy planes and anti-submarine aircraft for close-in reconnaissance operations on China,, Global Times reported.
The monitoring of the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI), a Beijing-based think tank, claimed that in May 2020, 35 large spy planes were sent by the US to the South China Sea, the Global Times reported. In May 2021, 72 US spy aircraft flew over the region, according to the SCSPI.
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Taiwan Scaling Up Its Defense
It was also reported that to counter the Chinese aggression, Taiwan has procured a new variant of its homegrown Thunderbolt-2000 multiple rocket system (MLRS), which is capable of striking targets within a range of 100 kilometers.
Last week, Eurasian times reported, that two arms deals worth $1.75 billion were signed between Taiwan and the US.
The deals included a long-range precision fire system and a batch of missiles. It is speculated that the package may comprise the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and Harpoon Coastal Defence Systems (HCDS).
In March, Taiwan’s Air force unveiled its plans to acquire the Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) by 2025. Also due to the increased Chinese intrusions, Taiwan recently carried out live-fire drills, which were a part of practicing “the implementation of defense plans and battlefield operations”.
Earlier this month, the Chinese PLA conducted amphibious landing exercises in the South China Sea’s Fujian Province, days after US senators traveled to Taiwan by a military transport aircraft to provide 750,000 Covid-19 vaccines.
The visit irked China which called it “extremely irresponsible” and “the trip had damaged the foundation of China-US ties and the stability of the Taiwan Strait”, reported the EurAsian Times.