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China claims joint air-sea combat operation around Taiwan

The Chinese joint air-sea combat readiness operation on 19 August 2023 saw 27 PLA aircraft fly into Taiwan's air-defence identification zone. (Taiwan Ministry of National Defense/Chinese Ministry of National Defense)

China said it launched a joint air and sea combat readiness operation around Taiwan on 19 August in response to a senior Taiwan politician's visit to the United States.

The Chinese Ministry of National Defense (MND) claimed that it had launched fighter jets, bombers, and airborne mission aircraft of the People's Liberation Army's (PLA's) Eastern Theater Command (ETC) towards Taiwan. The naval and air exercises were intended to test the ability of disparate theatre units to work together.

The operations focused on “ship-aircraft co-ordination, seizure of control areas, submarine detection and tracking, and simulated anti-submarine warfare”, the Chinese MND said.

According to Taiwan's MND, 45 PLA aircraft were monitored in the region around Taiwan. Of these, 27 entered its air-defence identification zone (ADIZ) on 19 August, including 25 aircraft that crossed the median line.

The Taiwan MND data stated that 25 aircraft in the ADIZ were combat fighters, including nine Sukhoi Su-30s, four Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-11s, and 12 Chengdu Aircraft Industries (Group) Company (CAC) J-10Cs. Other aircraft included in the day's operations was a single new Shaanxi Aircraft Corporation (SAIC) Y-9 communications countermeasures (CCM) aircraft.

According to the Chinese MND, the aircraft mounted live munitions. The aircraft subsequently co-operated with PLA Navy destroyers and missile-armed speedboats to attack “enemy” patrols, the ministry added. Strategic bombers were also involved, the Chinese MND claimed. State-owned media, such as the national broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV), aired footage showing Xi'an Aircraft Company Ltd (XAC) H-6K bombers of the 28th Air Regiment in flight.

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