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U.S. military aircraft fly south of Taiwan after PLA training mission

ROC Central News Agency

04/13/2020 01:57 PM

Taipei, April 13 (CNA) Two United States military aircraft were reported close to Taiwan's southern airspace on Monday, one day after the Ministry of National Defense (MND) confirmed a Chinese aircraft carrier battle group sailed east of the country.

A U.S. RC-135W Rivet Joint and a Lockheed P-3 Orion were operating in the South China Sea, according to flight charts posted on Twitter Monday morning by Aircraft Spots, a military air movement tracker.

Based on the Twitter posts, both planes flew at different intervals, with the RC-135W reconnaissance plane spotted first southwest of Taiwan.

Taiwanese military spokesman Shih Shun-wen (史順文) did not directly confirm the aircraft sightings, except to say the nation's armed forces are closely monitoring the country's surrounding waters and airspace.

According to charts released by Aircraft Spots and Taiwan's own records, the latest operation was the 10th time U.S. aircraft have operated near the country's airspace since March 25.

The MND said Sunday evening that the Chinese aircraft carrier the Liaoning, escorted by two destroyers, two frigates and a supply ship, were monitored as they passed through the Miyako Strait on Saturday and moved southward, passing east of Taiwan on Sunday, on a long-range training mission.

No unusual activities were detected, the defense ministry said.

Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a senior analyst at the Institute of National Defense and Security Research, said Sunday that China has expanded its maritime and air presence in the Indo-Pacific region.

"This is probably the main reason U.S. reconnaissance planes have recently been spotted operating near the Bashi Channel, to monitor the movements of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in the area," Su said.

(By Matt Yu and Ko Lin)


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