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Taiwan sees second Chinese air incursion as US agrees arms sale

Seventeen Chinese J-10 fighters and four advanced Shenyang J-16 fighters entered Taiwan’s air defense zone just as the US announced potential $619 million arms sales.

Taiwan has reported a large-scale Chinese air force invasion of its air defense zone for the second day in a row, just as the United States approved a possible $619 million sale of weapons to the island – including hi-tech missiles for Taiwan’s F-16 fighter jets.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said a total of 21 Chinese warplanes — 17 Chengdu J-10 multirole fighters and four advanced Shenyang J-16 fighters — flew to the southwestern corner of the island’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Thursday.

The J-10s, an older fighter that first entered service 20 years ago, flew closer to China’s coast than Taiwan’s, while the J-16s, a much newer and more advanced fighter, flew in an area northeast of the Taiwanese coast flew. controlled Pratas Islands, according to a map of the incident released by the ministry.

Another eight Chinese aircraft and four Chinese naval vessels were also detected operating off the coast of Taiwan but failed to enter the ADIZ, the ministry said.

Taiwan’s armed forces were “monitoring the situation and instructed CAP (combat air patrol) aircraft, naval vessels and land-based missile systems to respond to these activities,” the defense ministry said in its statement.

On Wednesday, Taiwan reported that 19 Chinese Air Force fighter jets had entered the air defense zone in the past 24 hours.

China has not commented on its recent military activity near Taiwan. In January, Beijing said it had organized combat exercises around the island to “resolutely counter the provocative actions of outside forces and Taiwan’s separatist independence forces”.

Washington’s announcement of the potential sale of nearly $620 worth of high-tech weapons to Taiwan is likely to further heighten tensions between the US and Beijing.

The Pentagon said Wednesday that the US State Department has approved the potential sale to Taiwan of weapons and equipment, including 200 anti-aircraft Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and 100 AGM-88B HARM missiles that can be disabled radar stations on land.

“The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not change the military base balance in the region,” said Taiwan’s defense ministry. said in a statement.

The arms sales will “contribute to the recipient’s ability to provide for the defense of its airspace, regional security and interoperability with the United States,” it added.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said the missiles would help “effectively defend the airspace to face threats and provocations from the Communist military” and bolster defense stocks.

Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin are the main contractors, it added. China has imposed sanctions on both companies for selling Taiwanese weapons.

Taiwan has complained for years about increased Chinese military activity near the island as Beijing tries to assert its claims against democratically-run Taiwan. China insists its activities are justified as it seeks to defend its territorial integrity and has warned the US of “collusion” with Taiwan.