TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Two U.S. Air Force (USAF) bombers and one Chinese spyplane were spotted to the east of Taiwan on Friday (Sept. 25).
At 12:16 p.m. the plane tracker Aircraft Spots tweeted that two USAF B-1B Lancers had departed Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, heading northwest. The aircraft spotter speculated the bombers were heading to the East China Sea or the South China Sea.
A map included in the tweet places their last known position to be southeast of Taiwan and on a flight path that could take them to the northeast of the country. The Twitter user added that two KC-135R Stratotankers had provided tanker support, thus indicating they were on a long-distance mission.
The flight of the bombers took place on the last day of the 12-day war games being held by the U.S. off the coast of Guam and the Mariana Islands in the Western Pacific. The same day, the U.S. Pacific Fleet on its Facebook page posted a photo of the armada of warships and warplanes taking part in the drills, including a B-1B bomber, and wrote, “This exercise assures our allies and partners that we take securing peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region seriously.”
Flightpath of B-1B bombers. (Twitter, Aircraft Spots image)
Also on Friday, Japan's Ministry of Defense (MOD) announced that a Chinese Shaanxi Y-9 reconnaissance aircraft was spotted in the East China Sea heading in a southwesterly direction. It crossed the Miyako Strait before turning west and headed toward the eastern sector of Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) off the coast of Hualien County.
According to the MOD, Japanese fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the Chinese spy plane. The Japanese warplanes then tailed and photographed the Chinese aircraft.
Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense has not issued a statement on either incident. If the Chinese spy plane had breached Taiwan's ADIZ, it would have been the eighth to do so in nine days.
Also on Friday, Japan's new Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide held his first official phone call with Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Chairman Xi Jinping (習近平). During the call, Suga expressed his concern about China's increasingly aggressive military stance in the East China Sea.
Path of Y-9 spy plane. (Japan Ministry of Defense map)
Y-9 spy plane spotted in Miyako Strait. (Japan Ministry of Defense photo)