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PLA conducts long-range air operation over Western Pacific

The Chinese PLA conducted air operation over the Western Pacific, in the vicinity of the Japan's southwestern islands and Taiwan on 9–10 and 12 March 2024. (Japan Ministry of Defense/Taiwan Ministry of National Defense/Janes)

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) conducted a long-range operation over the Western Pacific with special mission and combat aircraft.

The operation, conducted over three days from 9 to 10 March and on 12 March, according to data from the Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD), was potentially an effort to gauge Japan's strengthening of air defences and military units on its southernmost islands, towards Taiwan. The air operations were also potentially part of an anti-access/aerial denial (A2/AD) drill.

According to MoD data, a PLA Shaanxi Aircraft Industry (Group) Corporation (SAIC) Y-8Q anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft operated about 230 n miles west of Taiwan and about 115 n miles south of Miyako-jima from “morning to afternoon”. On the following day, the same Y-8Q (no 61) conducted a larger patrol sweep from “morning to the afternoon” over the same area, the Japan MoD data added.

A larger force of PLA aircraft operated over the area on 12 March. The MoD said, that afternoon, a Chinese Y-9JB (GX-8) intelligence-gathering aircraft, operating with two Xi'an Aircraft Company (XAC) H-6J maritime strike bombers, flew over the Miyako Strait before conducting a sustained drill over the same target area, south of Miyako-jima and west of Taiwan.

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