China flies 25 planes including nuclear bombers into Taiwan's airspace

China flies 25 aircraft including nuclear bombers into Taiwan’s airspace in the largest incursion for three months as tensions continue to build

  • 25 Chinese aircraft entered Taiwan’s airspace, the island’s military has said 
  • 22 fighters accompanied two nuclear-capable bombers and one recon plane 
  • Taiwan scrambled jets, broadcast warnings and activated missile defences 
  • It is the largest incursion by China’s Air Force since June 15, and comes amid heightened tensions in the region

China has flown 25 aircraft into Taiwan’s airspace in the largest incursion for months as tensions in the region continue to build. 

Taipei said 22 fighters including 18 J-16 jets and four Su-30s flew accompanied two nuclear-capable H-6 bombers and one Y-8 recon plane on a mission Friday.

Fighters were scrambled in response while radio warnings were broadcast and missile defences activated to monitor the situation, Taiwan’s military said.

It is the largest number of aircraft to enter Taiwan’s ‘air defence identification zone’ since June 15, when 28 aircraft approached the island.

The mission comes amid mounting tensions in the region, following the AUKUS submarine pact which has enraged Beijing.

China has flown 25 planes, including 22 jets along with two nuclear-capable bombers and one spy plane, into Taiwan’s ‘air defence identification zone’

Two nuclear-capable H-6 bombers took part in the sortie, flying south of Taiwan island before turning around and heading back to China (file image)

China frequently flies such missions, but they have taken on new significance in the wake of the AUKUS deal.

Taiwan is a close ally of the US, which may go to war to protect the island in the event of an invasion by China – which Xi Jinping has warned he is considering. 

The pact means the UK and Australia could now be dragged into the conflict.

Flight tracking data published by Taiwan showed the J-16 and Russian-made Su-30 fighters flew a short distance into the ADIZ before turning back.

Two H-6 bombers briefly skirted the edge of the ADIZ. The Y-8 plane flew a slightly longer route along the south of the island before also turning back. 

The island’s government has complained for a year of repeated missions by China’s air force near its borders, often in the southwestern part of its air defense zone close to Taiwan-controlled Pratas Island.

China flew at least one aircraft into Taiwan’s defence zone almost every day last month, defence ministry data shows.

Most missions only involve a handful of aircraft, making Friday’s sortie exceptional for its size.

Only three comparable missions have taken place in recent months, with one on September 23 that included 19 aircraft, one on September 5 that also included 19 aircraft, and one on June 15 that included 28.

Self-governing Taiwan, which is home to the Republic of China which fought against the Communist Party when it first emerged, views itself as an independent state but Beijing views it as a breakaway province.

It has long-standing ties with the US, which historically recognised it as the legitimate government of China.

Tensions around the island have been mounting since President Xi Jinping vowed in 2019 to ‘reunify’ Taiwan with the Chinese mainland, using force if necessary.

The standoff entered a new phase last week when Australia, the UK and US announced a new defence pact to share military technology that will include giving Australia its first fleet of nuclear submarines.

Beijing reacted angrily to the deal, denouncing the allies’ ‘Cold War mentality’ while warning it risks stability in the region and could make Australia the target of a nuclear strike.

Shortly after the alliance was announced, Australian defence minister Peter Dutton admitted that war with China is possible – with Taiwan likely to be the flashpoint.

The deal is about securing ‘peace’ in the region, Mr Dutton insisted, but added that the odds of a conflict with China ‘shouldn’t be discounted’.

‘The Chinese.. are very clear of their intent with regard to Taiwan [and] the United States has been very clear of their intention toward Taiwan,’ he said.

‘Nobody wants to see conflict but that really is a question for the Chinese.’

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