Chinese military experts have said that recent “real-combat drills” conducted by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the Taiwan Straits are a rehearsal for Taiwan annexation.
Analysts told Global Times on Sunday that “PLA drills this time are not a warning, but a rehearsal for a Taiwan takeover.”
On September 19, twelve J-16 fighters, two J-10 fighters, two J-11 fighters, two H-6 bombers and one Y-8 ASW crossed the midline of the Taiwan Strait and entered Taiwan’s southwest Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). Around a week earlier, Taiwan defense ministry claimed Chinese warplanes intruded ADIZ, created by the U.S. after World War II, 40 times in two days.
Responding to China’s drills, Taiwan said it reserves the right to launch a “defensive air strike” against the mainland. “Taiwan would not fire the first shot, but it would exercise its right to defend itself and would definitely fire back if fired upon,” a military source was quoted as saying by Taipei Times today.
Chinese mainland military analysts pointed out that the warplane combination deployed by the PLA in the exercises is accurate to a real combat situation and covers many different scenarios. “J-10 and J-11 fighters are mainly used in combat against hostile aircraft, H-6 bombers are mainly used to attack warships and ground facilities, J-16 fighters are multirole and can tackle all aerial, maritime and land targets and the Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft can locate and attack enemy submarines,” a mainland military expert said.
According to Taiwan's defense authority, PLA air superiority fighters, namely the J-10s and J-11s, operated to the northwest of the island close to Hsinchu and Taichung, where its Mirage 2000 and F-CK-1 fighters are based.
“The simulated missions by the J-10s and J-11s were probably aimed at neutralizing any remaining Taiwan warplanes there that had made their way into the air after surviving potential PLA missile and artillery strikes on Taiwan military airfields,” analysts remarked.
The Global Times report added that “several J-16 jets probably equipped with air-to-air, anti-ship and ground attack weapons, reportedly operated to the north of the island - near Taipei, Keelung and Yilan - where the political center and some of the naval bases of the Taiwan island are located.”
The remaining J-16s flew to the southwest of the island alongside H-6 bombers and Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft. Analysts expect the J-16s to deal with Taiwan F-16 and F-CK-1 fighters based in Chiayi and Tainan, while also escort and cooperate with the H-6s in eliminating Taiwan warships based in Penghu and Kaohsiung with anti-ship missiles if necessary, the report said.
The Y-8 planes could clear the Straits of submarines and together with PLA minesweeping vessels, it could pave paths for the PLA landing forces, analysts added.
The recent Chinese “violations” come in the backdrop of U.S. Undersecretary of State, Keith Krach’s visit, to the island nation this week.