Chinese military planes carried out 39 incursions into Taiwan’s air defense zone on Sunday (January 23), the largest daily infiltration since October, amid mounting military pressure from Beijing on the island’s government, according to the government. The intrusions included 24 J-16 fighter jets, 10 J-10 fighter jets and a nuclear-capable H-6 bomber.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement late on Sunday that it had dropped its own aircraft to monitor 39 Chinese planes entering Taiwan’s air defense identification (ADIS) zone. The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense began advertising the incursions of Chinese warplanes in September 2020, and Agence France-presse (AFP) compiled a database of these aircraft, which increased in size and frequency.
Death of Taiwan pilots
The last quarter of 2021 was the peak of these intrusions. As Beijing celebrates its national holiday, October is the busiest month with 196 infiltrations, including 149 infiltrations in four days. The security zone does not correspond to Taiwan’s airspace, but covers a much larger area with part of China’s air defense identification zone.
According to a database compiled by the AFP, Chinese warplanes in Taiwan recorded 969 incursions into its air defense zone by 2021, more than double the 380 made in 2020.
Taiwan’s air force has suffered a series of dangerous accidents in recent years as its aging navy comes under pressure from China. Earlier this month, the Air Force temporarily grounded its F-16 fighter jets, and one of its most advanced fighter jets, the F-16Vs, crashed into the sea during a training flight and killed one pilot.