Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-01-24 03:57 PM
From 2011 until last October, the Tainan-based IDF jets intercepted about 30 foreign aircraft, but since that month, the number suddenly rose to more than 160, the Air Force was quoted by the Chinese-language United Evening News as saying.
The major surprise was that most of the violators of Taiwan’s air space did not come from opponent China, but from ally the United States and from Russia, reports said. Apparently, it was convenient for Russian planes on their way to and from Da Nang in Vietnam and for US jets heading for or returning from the Philippines to cross the southeastern corner of Taiwan’s airspace, off the coast of Taitung County.
The Air Force identified the most frequent trespassers as the Russian Tupolev TU-95, the US P-3C and EP-3C, but the number of incidents had leveled off recently, reports said.
Since the Air Force took delivery of upgraded IDF jets in 2011, the unit flew 1,500 missions over the seas around Taiwan.
Officers suggested that US planes left their normal routes on purpose to test Taiwan’s interception capabilities, the United Evening News reported. At least one incident involved a civilian Russian IL-62 aircraft which had not responded to calls to identify itself, reports said.
The incursions by Russian military jets could be ascribed to growing cooperation between the former communist superpower and Vietnam, which Moscow provided with Kilo-class submarines and Sukhoi fighter jets, reports said.
The Air Force emphasized that none of the originally unidentified aircraft hailed from China.
Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) includes the airspace above the main island of Taiwan, Penghu in the Taiwan Straits, and the disputed Diaoyutai Islands which are under Japanese control.
Beijing caused international consternation last November by announcing the immediate and unilateral formation of an ADIZ over the East China Sea between China, South Korea and Japan also covering the Diaoyutai.