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Chinese Su-35s fly into Taiwan's ADIZ for first time on record

The appearance of a pair of Sukhoi Su-35S in Taiwan's ADIZ on 30 May 2022 suggests that China is trying to increase the complexity of its training flights in an operational environment. Pictured above is a Russian Su-35S fighter taking off during tests in Russia. (Sukhoi)

Sukhoi Su-35S Flanker-E fighters operated by China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) have flown into Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) for the first time since Taipei started to publicly disclose such flights.

According to information from Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND), the incursion of two Su-35s was recorded on 30 May and appears linked to a formation of PLA fighter aircraft, which sortied into the southwestern part of the ADIZ.

The two Su-35s appeared to be part of a mixed force of six Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) J-16s, eight J-11s and four Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAIG) J-10s. Janes analysis has determined that this flight of fighters penetrated approximately 25 n miles into the ADIZ before turning back.

Taiwan started publishing details about Chinese military flights into its ADIZ from 9 September 2020 as a response to rising PLA incursions into the zone. A total of 30 aircraft incursions into the ADIZ were recorded on 30 May. This is the largest single-day number since 4 October 2021. The flights coincided with a three-day visit from 30 May by US Senator Tammy Duckworth to Taipei to discuss regional security and trade with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and an expert on Chinese military modernisation said that the limited penetration was likely intended to trigger a scramble of fighter aircraft by the Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF).

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