New level of threat-posture: Chinese jumbo bomber drone flies around Taiwan for the first time

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense reported that in the 24 hours up to 6:00 am this morning, April 28, a total of 38 sorties by Chinese military aircraft were recorded in Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone, including 19 that crossed the center line of the Taiwan Strait, and one that completely encircled Taiwan.

A TB-001 UAV flew via the Bashi Channel, south of the island, and traveled north, returning to China via the Miyako Strait in what appears to be a new level of threat-posturing by the Chinese military.

The TB-001 is a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned combat aerial vehicle first unveiled by the PLA in 2020, and first spotted by Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force operating in the East China Sea in August 2021. The drone has both reconnaissance and attack functions, and is capable of carrying a 1,200 kilogram payload including 250 kilogram laser-guided bomb, FT-7 glide bomb, FT-9 guided bomb, AR-4 air-to-surface missile, AR-3 cruise missile, FT-8D, or FT-10 air-to-ground missiles.

In addition to the TB-001, a BZK-005 UAV flew around the southern tip of Taiwan into the eastern airspace then returned on the same flight path. Five Sukai-30 fighter aircraft, eight J-10 fighters, two J-16 fighters, one Yun-8 anti-submarine aircraft, and one Yun-8 technical reconnaissance aircraft crossed the centerline of the strait and operated in Taiwan’s southwest airspace.

The Ministry of National Defense said that Taiwan’s military deployed aircraft, ships, and shore-mounted missile systems to track the aircraft.

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