In the ongoing effort to intimidate the Taiwanese government, the Communist Chinese Air Force sent 39 warplanes, mostly fighter jets, to Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ). The largest air fleet dispatched to Taiwanese airspace since October 4, 2021, when 56 Chinese fighter jets entered the ADIZ. Taiwan officials have confirmed that this was the second-largest incursion on record.

The Chinese threat of invasion has been very real to the Taiwanese, with Chinese fighter jets coming in and out of Taiwanese air space without regard for its sovereignty. This series of aggressions by Communist China ramped up notably after Taiwanese President Tsai lng-wen took office in 2016, rejecting the one country, two systems proposal by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2019. The battle-hardened Taiwanese President has constantly pushed the narrative that Taiwan is a sovereign nation and will not be part of “one China” as the island nation leans toward a democratic society than their communist counterparts.

Chinese Warplanes Used

The Chinese Air Force, known as the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), sent 24 J-16 fighters, ten J-10 fighters, and one H-6 bomber.  (Note, the bomber was probably in company to do the overwater navigation which suggests that Chinese fighters do not have the equipment or pilot training to operate far from their bases)

Two J-16 fighter jets attached to an aviation brigade of the air force under the PLA Western Theater Command fly in a two-ship formation during a flight training exercise in southwestern China's Chongqing Municipality on early March 6, 2018 (Chinese Military). Source: http://english.chinamil.com.cn/view/2018-03/20/content_7978719_6.htm
Two J-16 fighter jets attached to an aviation brigade of the air force under the PLA Western Theater Command fly in a two-ship formation during a flight training exercise in southwestern China’s Chongqing Municipality on early March 6, 2018 (eng.chinamil.com.cn/Photo by Liu Chang and Liu Yinghua).

The Shenyang J-16, the most used fighter jet dispatched to Taiwanese air space in 2021, was derived from the Shenyang J-11, which was based on the Sukhoi Su-17 fighters from Russia. Equipped with active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars, Shenyang WS-10A turbofan engines, advanced sensors, avionics, and long-range missiles, it is the Chinese’s most advanced fighter jet in its arsenal. It was also reported that the backseat co-pilot would be replaced by “intelligence victory,” an artificial intelligence algorithm.