Chinese Fighters, Bombers Ring Taiwan, Show 'Upgrade in Combat Capabilities'

Force Command Headquarters

China's Air Force conducted a long-range drill on Friday that had aircraft circling Taiwan in opposite directions, according to a statement from Taiwan's Air Force Command Headquarters. Su-35 fighter jets flew over the Bashi Channel in formation with the H-6Ks for the first time, which marks a new breakthrough in island patrol patterns, said Shen Jinke, spokesperson for the PLA air force.

Several H-6K bombers and surveillance aircraft from south and east theatre commands flew over Bashi Channel on Friday.

Defence Ministry of Taiwan assured people that it will closely monitor the Chinese air and naval drills in the region.

The exercise featured such aircraft as the Xian H-6K bomber, Su-35 and J-11 fighters, the Shaanxi Y-8 transport plane, early warning aircraft Kj-2000 and Tu-154 electronic surveillance aircraft, but neither Taipei nor Beijing disclosed the number of aircraft involved.

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It was the first time that the fighter jets and bombers and new fighter jets participated in combat training, the PLA Air Force announced on its Weibo account.

China is in the midst of an ambitious programme to modernise its armed forces, developing stealth fighters, aircraft carriers and advanced missiles as it strives to acquire a world-class military by the middle of the century.

In China's eyes, Taiwan is a wayward territory that must and will eventually be brought back into the fold, and military patrols of the island by Beijing have occurred more frequently ever since President Tsai Ing-wen, of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, was elected in 2016.

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