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China deploying record number of military aircraft near Taiwan

A map provided by the MND in Taipei showing that the PLA deployed a record 52 military aircraft near Taiwan on 4 October amid increased tensions between Beijing and Taipei. (Taiwanese MND)

Amid heightened tensions across the Taiwan Strait, China has been deploying a record number of military aircraft near Taiwan in a show of force that began on 1 October: the same day Beijing celebrated the 72nd anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

In the latest developments Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced on 4 October that 52 People's Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft, including 34 J-16 and two Su-30 multirole fighters, two KQ-200 anti-submarine warfare (ASW)-capable aircraft, two KJ-500 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) platforms, and 12 H-6-series strategic bombers, had entered the island's southwestern air-defence identification zone (ADIZ) that day: the largest number registered since the MND began making public PLA aircraft movements near Taiwan in mid-September 2020.

The previous day 16 PLA aircraft had entered the island's southwestern ADIZ, while on 2 October a total of 39 aircraft flew near Taiwan, including 20 aircraft during the day and 19 more at night-time. On 1 October the MND in Taipei registered 38 PLA aircraft entering Taiwan's southwestern ADIZ, including 25 during the day and 13 at night.

The MND noted that on each occasion the Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF) reacted by scrambling fighters, issuing radio warnings, and mobilising air-defence assets until the PLA aircraft left the area.

The Chinese state-owned Global Times newspaper reported that the PLA's actions were part of drills held in areas between the main island of Taiwan and the Taiwanese-controlled Dongsha (also known as Pratas) Island in the South China Sea.

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