In a first such move, China flew its Su-35 Fighters along with Xian H-6K bombers and other support aircraft over the Bashi Channel circling Taiwan under a long-range patrol. The People’s Liberation Air Force (PLAAF) has described the patrols as breakthroughs in its flights on the islands. The patrol involved fighters from the Eastern Theatre Command and Southern Theatre Command forming two formations one flying clockwise and the other flying counter-clockwise.
As per the official reports of the Air Force Headquarters of China, the PLAAF aircraft which took a northern route passed through the Miyako Strait which is situated between Miyako and Okinawa islands of Japan before they reached the Bashi Channel. Latter is a small waterway which lies in the middle of Philippines and Orchid island of Taiwan. The patrol comprised Su-35S and H-6Ks, J-11 fighter jets, Shaanxi Y-8, Tupolev Tu-154 MD which is an electronic intelligence plane, KJ-2000 the planes which are equipped with early warning systems.
The Japanese Defence Ministry also verified the passage of 2 unidentified PLAAF fighter jets, four H-6K bombers, Tu-154 MD and a Y-8 aircraft through the international airspace between its Okinawa and Miyako islands lying in the East China Sea. PLAAF said in response that China had the ability, capacity and confidence to defend its national sovereignty and territorial integrity. It added that such long-range patrols will be continued in future as well. China has been increasing its flight operations in the region around Miyako Strait which forms a primary entry point for People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). It has also stepped up its presence in the Bashi Channel. Both the latter are vital chokepoints in case of a conflict which can prevent third-party intervention considerably.