TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A U.S. Navy P-8A surveillance aircraft and a U.S. Navy EP-3E signals reconnaissance plane were spotted approaching the Chinese coastal provinces of Zhejiang and Fujian, respectively, on Sunday afternoon (July 26).
According to the Peking University Institute of Ocean Research’s South China Sea (SCS) Probing Initiative Twitter account, the U.S. Navy P-8A with the hex code AE68A2 was tracked from Japan entering China’s East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) around 12:27 p.m on Sunday. The plane then flew southwest along the coastal Zhejiang province.
The P-8A then turned around and at one point was only 41.3 nautical miles from China’s territorial sea baseline, which SCS Probing Initiative pointed out may have been the closest to China a U.S. surveillance plane has recently been. Around 2:00 p.m., AE68A2 was tracked returning back to Japan.
Update: P-8A (#AE68A2) kept patrolling alongside #China's east coast, operated about #41NM off the baseline, July 26.— SCS Probing Initiative (@SCS_PI) July 26, 2020
That might be the closest the #US surveillance aircraft has reached recently. https://t.co/wkhZP87wTX pic.twitter.com/ZNI3nm9pkk
Earlier on Sunday, a U.S. Air Force E-8C plane with the hex code AE1492 and a U.S. Navy EP-3E aircraft with the hex code AE1D8A were tracked flying south of Taiwan over the Bashi Channel toward the South China Sea. The EP-3E then flew northwest toward the Chinese coastal province of Fujian, and came within 57.54 nautical miles from China’s baseline at around 2:23 p.m. before turning around and flying back.
Update: EP-3E (#AE1D8A) is flying back, after approaching about 57NM off #Fujian (the province across from #Taiwan) and the southern part of the #TaiwanStrait, July 26. https://t.co/A5socBrUa6 pic.twitter.com/bzqHAbL8wk— SCS Probing Initiative (@SCS_PI) July 26, 2020