TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's military on Wednesday (Aug. 24) said that a photo circulating on Chinese social media showing Taiwanese soldiers looking up at a Chinese unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is authentic, but was actually taken at a greater distance than it appears and did not penetrate Taiwan's airspace.
In recent days, a photo has surfaced on Chinese social media showing two Taiwanese sentries allegedly staring up at a People's Liberation Army (PLA) drone from what appears to be close range. On Tuesday (Aug. 23), the Kinmen Defense Command issued a statement in which it announced that the Lieyu Garrison Battalion spotted what it described as a "civilian drone" flying overhead at 6 p.m. on Aug. 16.
After the sentries followed standard operating procedure (SOP) to notify and warn the aircraft, "the drone quickly flew away." The Ministry of National Defense (MND) in a statement issued that same day pointed out, with the use of joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance methods in the defense zone, it was able to effectively ascertain the dynamics in the area.
The MND emphasized that important facilities and positions have been concealed and covered. It stressed that emergencies will be dealt with in accordance with combat readiness provisions.
A spokesman for the Kinmen Defense Command on Wednesday told Taiwan News the drone was indeed civilian and was flying over the waters off the coast of Lieyu Township, but did not enter its airspace. The official emphasized that as can be seen in the photo, one of the soldiers is holding a camera in his hand to take photos of the drone, as is the SOP in such situations.
The representative stressed that because the UAV was still offshore, only a radio warning was issued. He said that flares were not fired because the UAV never entered the country's airspace.
He said that the drone was at an elevation of approximately 1,000 meters and had taken the photo of the soldiers with a special telephoto lens. The official also emphasized that the soldiers were situated at a monitoring station specifically positioned to monitor PLA aircraft flying in the area, and therefore the aircraft had not exposed a major military base.
Taiwanese troops look up at Chinese drone. (Weibo image)