In what's without doubt the largest group of Chinese aircraft to fly near Taiwan in a long while, the PLA military mounted a huge show of force aimed at the democratic island and its Western backers on China's National Day - which commemorates the formal proclamation of the establishment of the communist People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949.
Taiwan's defense ministry said 25 total jets breached its air defense identification zone Friday (ADIZ), causing the self-ruled island to once again scramble air patrols and track the aircraft with anti-air missile defenses which were put on high alert. Later into the evening, 13 more were recorded breaching the ADIZ in a separate breach, totaling a record-smashing 38 Chinese aircraft.
The first incident included 18 J-16 fighter jets alongside two H-6 bombers, and other aircraft, a military statement indicated.
Friday's incursion comes on the heels of another large PLA flight from last week, which saw a total two dozen fighter jets approach Taiwan on two separate occasions. Last April had also seen a PLA incursion of up to 25 warplanes, which up to that point had been the biggest all year.
That prior incident came simultaneous to Taiwan's provocative announced intentions to joint the trans-Pacific trade group which China also applied to join (namely the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP).
International reports detailing Friday's incursion cited a map Taiwan's military released, which indicated the PLA planes near the disputed Pratas Island, with the two bombers coming near the the adjacent atoll.
25 PLA aircraft (J-16*18, SU-30*4, H-6*2 and Y-8 ASW) entered #Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ on October 1, 2021. Please check our official website for more information: https://t.co/C7012S8hSo pic.twitter.com/HoalLl3Ewx— 國防部 Ministry of National Defense, R.O.C. 🇹🇼 (@MoNDefense) October 1, 2021
And later in the evening (local time), another incursion included 13 more PLA aircraft.
At 38 total Chinese fighters entering Taiwan's air defense identification zone on Friday, this marks the greatest number of single-day incursions recorded since Taipei started publicly releasing the data...
13 PLA aircrafts (J-16*10, H-6*2 and KJ-500*1) entered #Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ on October 1, 2021. Please check our official website for more information: https://t.co/0I7yRp7A6o pic.twitter.com/BHU0N81A1s— 國防部 Ministry of National Defense, R.O.C. 🇹🇼 (@MoNDefense) October 1, 2021
So far these threatening PLA incursions have only caused Taipei to double down on increased military spending, as well as its willingness to receive weapons from Washington. For example Taiwan's defense ministry said in a statement a week ago that "In the face of severe threats from the enemy, the nation’s military is actively engaged in military building and preparation work, and it is urgent to obtain mature and rapid mass production weapons and equipment in a short period of time."
Meanwhile the increasingly large incursions - and ramped up frequency (almost daily at this point) - leaves open the possibility of a 'live fire' incident that could spark major war.