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China launched 26 aircraft to monitor US P-8

The US Navy has conducted several transits of the Taiwan Strait in 2023. Its latest transit, on 13 July, by a Boeing P-8A Poseidon, attracted a major response from the Chinese PLA. (Taiwan Ministry of National Defense/US Indo-Pacific Command/China Ministry of National Defense)

The flight of a US Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft over the Taiwan Strait on 13 July prompted China to launch 26 combat aircraft, according to the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense (MND).

In a statement issued on 13 July the MND said it “successfully detected 26 sorties” by People's Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft “in response to the US P-8A-type aircraft”. The MND added that these were fighter aircraft, including a number of CAC J-10s, atleast two SAC J-11s, seven J-16s, and six Sukhoi Su-30s.

“Among them, 13 [aircraft] crossed the centre [median] line of the strait and its extension line and entered the southwest airspace to conduct joint sea-air training with [PLA Navy] ships,” the MND said. “Another four [PLA Navy] ships co-operated in the implementation of combat readiness and policing patrols.”

According to the MND, the P-8's transit over the strait occurred in the morning. The aircraft flew “north to south along the centreline of the Taiwan Strait,” the MND said.

The P-8, which is also an anti-submarine warfare aircraft, can detect, locate, and track surface and undersea targets. Its mission systems, datalink, and L-3 Wescam MX-20HD digital electro-optical/infrared sensor system can support battlespace control, according to Boeing.

Colonel Shi Yi, spokesperson for the PLA's Eastern Theater Command, confirmed that PLA fighter aircraft had been launched in response to the appearance of the P-8A. “The PLA organised fighter planes to follow and monitor the US plane throughout the process, and dealt with it in accordance with laws and regulations,” Col Shi said.

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