Taiwanese Air Force jets scrambled to intercept some 30 Chinese military aircraft as they entered the island’s air defense zone, the authorities in Taipei reported on Monday.
According to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry, 22 of those planes were fighter jets, with the rest made up of electronic warfare, early warning, and anti-submarine aircraft.
The Chinese Air Force squadron approached Taiwanese-controlled Pratas Island in the northern part of the South China Sea. Though situated around 450km (280 miles) away from Taiwan proper, the island and the waters surrounding it are part of the republic’s so-called Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), not to be confused with the republic’s narrower airspace.
As well as sending its combat jets to the area, Taipei said it had also activated its missile defenses, which monitored the incoming aircraft.
Taiwan’s military officials described the incursion as the largest of its kind since January 23, when 39 Chinese aircraft crossed into the ADIZ.
Beijing has yet to comment on the latest incident. Previously, the Chinese government has described similar episodes as drills aimed at protecting the country’s sovereignty.