South Korea, Japan and Taiwan have all scrambled jets in the past 36 hours to intercept China’s military aircraft and the Liaoning aircraft carrier and its strike group as they returned from a training deployment to the South China Sea.
Taiwan’s ministry of defense on Wednesday said that China’s aircraft carrier sailed through the Taiwan Strait adding that it has scrambled its planes to closely monitor the Chinese group.
Liaoning did not enter Taiwan’s territorial waters but it did enter its air defense identification zone (ADIZ) the ministry added.
In a separate instance, Japan and South Korea scrambled their aircraft on Monday to intercept a group of Chinese warplanes flying over the Korea Strait and near Japanese islands.
The Chinese group consisted of H-6 strategic bombers, a Shaanxi Y-8 early-warning plane and a Shaanxi Y-9 intelligence-gathering aircraft.
China’s aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, started blue water drills on December 24, heading towards the West Pacific with a carrier task group composed of three guided missile destroyers and two frigates.
Chinese state media reported that this was the carrier’s first “distant seas” deployment.
The Liaoning and other ships from the formation held a live-fire drill that included carrier-based J-15 fighter jets in the Bohai Sea on December 24.
Liaoning is China’s only aircraft carrier, purchased from Ukraine in 1998 after the break-up of the Soviet Union. The carrier was purchased for $20 million and later refitted by the Chinese CSIC Dalian Shipyard. It was commissioned into the navy in 2012.
Chinese military officials confirmed in January this year that the country is building its second aircraft carrier. The new carrier will be powered by a conventional power plant built entirely domestically, using domestic technology and flying the Chinese J-15 fighter jets.