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Chinese military aircraft breach median line in large numbers

While incursions by Chinese military aircraft over the Taiwan Strait median line have been recorded in previous years, data shows that Chinese aircraft began to cross the median line in larger numbers from 2022. (Taiwan Ministry of National Defense/Janes)

Chinese military aircraft have conducted the largest breach of the Taiwan Strait median line to date.

According to data revealed by Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND), Janes has assessed that between 34 and 43 combat aircraft crossed the median line over a 24-hour period between 0600 h local time on 25 December and 0600 h local time on 26 December. The median line is the de facto sea border separating China from Taiwan.

This includes five types of combat jets, including 12 Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-11s, six Sukhoi Su-30MKKs, six Chengdu Aircraft Industries (Group) Company (CAC) J-10s, and between nine and 18 SAC J-16s.

The J-16 numbers have been assessed as a range because the Taiwanese MND specified that a total of 18 J-16 aircraft conducted incursions into Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on 25 December. This includes an unspecified number of aircraft operating away from the median line in the southwestern quadrant of the ADIZ.

The data suggests that this second flight of J-16s operated in concert with surveillance and intelligence-gathering platforms assessing Taiwan's air-defence response. The aircraft in this sector of the ADIZ included one KJ-500 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft and one Guizhou Aviation Aircraft Corporation (GAAC) WZ-7 ‘Xianglong' (‘Soaring Dragon') high-altitude long-endurance (HALE)-class strategic intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

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