A total of 5 US military aircraft were operating over the Bashi Channel, and South China Sea yesterday, June 24, and it is suspected the aircraft were tracking submarine movements, according to reports in Taiwan media, including Liberty Times.
The primary source for the media reports is the South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative (SCSPI), operating out of Peking University’s Institute of Oceanology.
SCSPI tweeted details of the aircraft movements late yesterday evening, showing that two P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft, one P-3C antisubmarine, one RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft, and a KC-135 refueling plane were operating in the area from morning to afternoon. The aircraft configuration and movements suggested an anti-submarine reconnaissance operation.
Three US military aircraft movements were recorded operating in the same area this morning, June 25, including a P-8A, RC-135, and a C-17 Globemaster III. The P-8A flew over the Bashi Channel directly towards Dongsha (Pratas) Island, and then approached the southeastern coast of China, according to SCSPI.
The heightened level of activity follows a joint training exercise involving Japanese and US ships in the South China Sea June 23, and eight incursions by Chinese PLA aircraft into Taiwan’s southwest air defense identification zone in the last two weeks.
Chinese submarine activity was also reported in the contiguous waters of Japan over several days from June 20. Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) actively monitored the sub’s movements.
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