Massive Chinese Fighter Surge Near Taiwan is ‘Destructive’, Say Officials

September 18, 2023 1:14 PM
The path of Chinese fighters flying near Taiwan. Taiwan MND

Chinese warships and military aircraft surged toward Taiwan in a record show of force on Monday, according to the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense.

Officials in Taipei reported 103 Chinese aircraft and nine People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ships operating near the island within a 24-hour period from Sunday to Monday. The MND also issued a separate statement criticizing China for its patterns of military activity around Taiwan, stating that China’s activities have posed severe challenges to the Taiwan Strait and regional security and urged Beijing to stop such “unilateral destructive actions.”

MND reported that 40 of the 103 aircraft crossed the median line over the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China or crossed into Taiwan’s southwest Air Defense Identification Zone. A map from MND showed that the majority of the 40 aircraft carried out flights crossing the southwest ADIZ to enter and return from the Philippine Sea. The MND included a breakdown of the 40 aircraft, which included 10 Su-30s, 12 J-10s, four J-11s and ten J-16 fighters, along with two Y-20 tanker aircraft and two KJ-500 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AWEC) aircraft.

“The Communist Army’s continued military harassment can easily lead to a sharp increase in tension and worsen regional security. We call on the Beijing authorities to take responsibility and immediately stop such destructive unilateral actions,” reads the release from Taiwan’s MND.

The number of Chinese sorties was a record high and posed severe challenges to Taiwan Strait and regional security and the Taiwanese military was responding calmly to the situation, according to the MND.

The fighters in the operations did not include J-15 fighters from carrier CNS Shandong (17) crossing into the southwest ADIZ. Reports by Japan’s Ministry of Defense said Shandong conducted fighter and helicopter operations while it was operating south of Taiwan. The carrier was closer to the Philippines than Taiwan while it was in the Philippine Sea based on the locations provided by the Japanese MOD. As of Monday morning, China had not issued any statement on the carrier’s latest operations in the Philippine Sea.


Meanwhile on Saturday, Japan’s Ministry of Defense reported a violation of its territorial waters by PLAN hydrographic survey ship Chen Jingrun (26) on Friday. The survey ship was sailing westward through Japan’s contiguous zone southeast of the island of Yakushima, which lies 39 miles south of the main island of Kyushu. Around 10:08 p.m. local time on the same day, Chen Jingrun entered Japanese territorial waters northeast of the island of Kuchinoshima, left Japan’s territorial waters north of Kuchinoshima at 11.43 p.m. and sailed west. Japanese frigate JS Mikuma (FFM-4), fast attack craft JS Shirataka (PG-829) and a JMSDF P-1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) from Fleet Air Wing 1 based at JMSDF Kanoya Air Base on the main island of Kyushu monitored the PLAN survey ship, according to the news release.

On Friday, Japan’s Joint Staff Office (JSO) reported a Russian Il-20 Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) surveillance aircraft flying in from the Russian continent to the Pacific Ocean via the Sea of Okhotsk that morning and into the day. The aircraft then turned back at a point west of the main island of Honshu and south of the main island of Hokkaido and went back into the Sea of Japan via the Sea of Okhotsk.

On the morning of the same day, the JSO reported, a second Il-20 flew into continental Russia and, after flying south over the Sea of Japan, turned around off Sado Island, which lies about 20 miles east of Niigata Prefecture on the main island of Honshu, and headed northwest towards continental Russia. On both occasions, fighter aircraft from the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) Northern Air Defense Force command scrambled in response.

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir is a freelance defense journalist and analyst based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Among the publications he has written for and currently writes for since 1998 includes Defence Review Asia, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Navy International, International Defence Review, Asian Defence Journal, Defence Helicopter, Asian Military Review and the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter.

Get USNI News updates delivered to your inbox