Chinese aircraft cross Taiwan Strait median line after U.S. arms sale announcement - M5 Dergi
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Chinese aircraft cross Taiwan Strait median line after U.S. arms sale announcement

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A total of 22 Chinese military aircraft and five naval ships were detected around Taiwan on Friday, of which 13 warplanes and drones either breached Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) or crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, according to the Ministry of National Defense (MND).

Of the aircraft, MND data showed sorties comprised of Chengdu J-10, Shenyang J-16 and Sukhoi SU-30 fighter jets, as well as H-6 strategic bombers, KJ-500 third-generation airborne early warning and control planes and an undisclosed number of unmanned aerial vehicles.

The MND added that 13 of the 22 crafts detected since 7 a.m. Friday either flew into Taiwan’s ADIZ or crossed the Taiwan Strait median line, without giving more details.

The ministry said it scrambled combat air and naval patrols and deployed defense missile systems to track the Chinese military aircraft.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry has been posting information about Chinese planes entering Taiwan’s ADIZ since Sept. 17, 2020, amid a growing frequency of incursions by Chinese military aircraft.

China stepped up military maneuvers in early August last year, holding live-fire drills in six locations around the country, after U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan.

A large number of Chinese warplanes have since crossed the median line, the unofficial border between Taiwan and China, following Pelosi’s visit, which is generally considered far more provocative than incursions into the ADIZ.

The intrusions Friday came following the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s (DSCA) announcement on Wednesday that the United States government had greenlit a proposed US$500 million sale of infrared search and track (IRST) systems for F-16 fighter jets, and related equipment, to Taiwan.

The proposed sale will improve Taiwan’s ability to meet current and future threats by contributing to its abilities to “defend its airspace, provide regional security, and increase interoperability with the United States through its F-16 program,” DSCA said.

Additionally, Taiwan military experts also said the IRST systems could help Taiwan’s radars detect the infrared heat source generated by enemy stealth fighters, which could potentially serve as a counter measure against China’s Chengdu J-20 (a.k.a. Mighty Dragon) twinjet all-weather stealth fighter aircraft.

The package is the 11th U.S. arms sale to Taiwan since President Joe Biden took office in 2021.

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