TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In addition to intruding on Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) with manned military aircraft on Monday (July 25), China also dispatched a drone off the east coast of Taiwan, according to Japan's Ministry of Defense.
According to press release issued by the Japan's Ministry of Defense Joint Staff on Monday, a Chinese TB-001 reconnaissance and strike unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), dubbed the "Twin-Tailed Scorpion," flew from the East China Sea area through the Miyako Strait between the islands of Okinawa and Miyakojima. After entering the Pacific Ocean, the UAV turned southwest, west, and again southwest as it flew past the Sakishima Islands.
It then headed northwest toward the Bashi Channel and northeastern Taiwan. The last reported heading of the UAV by Japan's defense ministry showed it flying southwest off the coast of Taiwan's Hualien County, inside the eastern sector of Taiwan's ADIZ.
Japan's Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighter jets in response to the drone's flight through the Miyako Strait, but the UAV did not enter Japan's airspace. NHK cited defense ministry sources as saying that China may have sent the drone to gather intelligence on Taiwan's annual military exercises that commenced that day, and they added it also may have been an attempt by Chinese leadership to "give a warning to Taiwan."
Taiwan's Ministry of Defense (MND) has yet to issue an official statement on the Chinese drone's flight. On Monday, it did announce that one People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Shenyang J-11 fighter jet and one Shaanxi Y-8 reconnaissance plane had entered the southwest corner of Taiwan’s ADIZ.
The PLAAF intrusions occurred on the first day of both Taiwan's annual Han Kuang military exercise (漢光演習), a series of war games that include live-fire maneuvers being held from July 25-29, and the Wan An exercise (萬安演習), an air raid drill simulating a Chinese air attack taking place from July 25-28.
On Tuesday (July 26), Taiwan's military is slated to conduct live-fire exercises and a joint Air Force and Navy drill consisting of more than 20 naval vessels and several Air Force fighters off eastern Yilan County's Suao naval base. The purpose of the exercise is to test Taiwan's joint defense capabilities against a Chinese invasion by sea, according to the MND.
Chinese UAV spotted on Monday. (Facebook, Ministry of Defense Joint Staff Japan image)
Route Chinese UAV took on Monday. (Facebook, Ministry of Defense Joint Staff Japan image)