TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — As China steps up its 'provocative" air patrols around Taiwan over the past few weeks, a report has surfaced that on at least once occasion, a Chinese warplane locked its radar onto a Taiwanese fighter jet.
As the Wuhan coronavirus rages in China, the communist country has stepped up aggressive air force missions near and around Taiwan to intimidate "separatist forces." These flights have consisted of Shengyang J-11 fighter jets, Xi'an H-6 strategic bombers, and Shaanxi KJ-500 early warning and control aircraft and have been met with Taiwanese F-16 fighter jets on at least two occasions.
On Jan. 23, several Chinese fighter jets, Xi'an H-6 bombers, and KJ-500 early warning aircraft flew over the Bashi Channel south of Taiwan. On Feb. 9, China sent out Shenyang J-11 fighter jets, at least four Xian H-6 jet bombers, and a KJ-500 airborne early warning aircraft at around 11 a.m, and the planes flew through the Bashi Channel and Miyako Strait — off the east coast of Taiwan — before returning to base, according to Taiwan’s defense authorities.
The ministry also released a photo of one of Taiwan's F-16 fighter jets, armed with at least one missile, flying close to the Chinese jet bomber for monitoring. The ministry stressed that the military would take full control of any situation and respond accordingly to ensure the nation’s sovereignty and protect the lives and property of the Taiwanese people.
People’s Liberation Army mouthpiece China Military on Feb. 10 quoted military spokesperson Zhang Chunhui (張春暉) as claiming that "separatist forces" in Taiwan were conspiring to push for the island's independence and that their schemes would "not win the heart of the people." He said the military remained on high guard and would fulfill its duties with resolution.
That same day, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense confirmed that Beijing had sent military aircraft, including a Xian H-6 bomber, to the Western Pacific off the east coast of Taiwan via the Bashi Channel for an exercise. One bomber briefly crossed the "middle line" in the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial airspace boundary once respected by both sides, but was intercepted and expelled by Taiwanese F-16 fighters, added the ministry.
Most recently, as Taiwan observed a public holiday, a Xi’an H-6 bomber flew close to the island’s southwest coast Friday afternoon (Feb. 28), according to the Ministry of National Defense.
Two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that in one case, a Chinese warplane "locked onto one of the Taiwan aircraft." Radar lock-on indicates that a target has been acquired by the warplane's missile guidance system and precedes the firing of a missile.
One of the sources described this move as "a very provocative action by China." Wang Ting-yu (王定宇), a lawmaker of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and member of the Legislative Yuan's Foreign and National Defense Committee, told Reuters that "Xi Jinping is trying to make the point that he is still in control of the military."
He added that "China is using external problems to relieve domestic pressure."