TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) tracked 26 Chinese military aircraft and seven naval vessels around the country between 6 a.m. Thursday (Oct. 19) and 6 a.m. Friday (Oct. 20).
The defense ministry said that 26 People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) military aircraft and seven People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) vessels were detected. Of the detected aircraft, 18 crossed the median line or entered the southeast and southwest sectors of Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ).
The aircraft tracked in the ADIZ included three Sukhoi Su-30, two Chengdu J-10, and 8 Shenyang J-16 fighter jets. Also detected was one BZK-005 Reconnaissance (RECCE) drone, one CASC Rainbow CH-4 RECCE drone, one Shaanxi Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft (Y-8 ASW), one Shaanxi Y-8 RECCE tactical reconnaissance plane, and one Shaanxi Y-9 communication countermeasure aircraft (Y-9 CC).
The Su-30 fighter jets crossed the northeastern end of the median line, while the J-10 fighters flew over the center of the median line. The BZK-500 drone, some of the J-16 fighters, and the CH-4 drone crossed the southwest edge of the median line and entered the southwest sector of the ADIZ.
The Y-8 ASW flew from the southwest to the southeast sections of the ADIZ and back. The Y-8 RECCE and Y-9 CC flew in the southwest section of the ADIZ, while some of the J-16 fighters briefly entered the southwest corner of the ADIZ to the northeast of the Dongsha Islands.
The MND said it monitored the situation with its intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance system and, in response, scrambled combat patrol aircraft, dispatched naval vessels, and deployed land-based air defense missile systems.
Since September 2020, Beijing has increasingly employed the use of "gray zone tactics" in the form of deployments of military aircraft and naval vessels over the median line and inside Taiwan's ADIZ.
According to CSIS, gray zone tactics are “an effort or series of efforts beyond steady-state deterrence and assurance that attempts to achieve one’s security objectives without resorting to direct and sizable use of force."
Map of flight paths of PLAAF aircraft between Oct. 19 and 20. (MND image)