The Changing Pattern of China’s Aircraft Incursions Into Taiwan’s ADIZ
By Olli Pekka Suorsa and Adrian Ang U-Jin
May 13, 2022
After frequent use, the KQ-200 anti-submarine warfare aircraft disappeared from China’s sorties near Taiwan for over two months. Why?
The pattern of China’s aerial incursions into Taiwan’s southwestern Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) has changed since our last two commentaries on these pages in October and November 2021. We saw a two-month pause in the dispatch of KQ-200 anti-submarine warfare and maritime patrol (ASW-MP) aircraft sorties into Taiwan’s ADIZ.
According to data from Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND), the last recorded sortie by a KQ-200 ASW-MPA into Taiwan’s ADIZ occurred on March 1, 2022 as part of an incursion that also included a KJ-500 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft, a Y-8 electronic warfare (EW) aircraft, two J-16 fighter jets, and a Z-9 ASW helicopter. After the two-month hiatus, the KQ-200 reappeared on May 3. Since then, the type has once again been involved in almost daily incursions into Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ, often alongside surface ships and their ASW helicopters (see here and here).
The complete absence of KQ-200 sorties within Taiwan’s southwestern ADIZ in the two months from March 1 to May 3 was a drastic change in pattern when compared to the past year, wherein the KQ-200 was the most ubiquitous intruder. In 2021, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) flew a total of 165 KQ-200 sorties into Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ – an average of 14 sorties per month. This past January and February witnessed 16 and 12 KQ-200 sorties respectively, figures that are very close to the previous year’s average monthly sorties. This shows quite a high operational tempo during the study period, with a sortie every other day. Drawn from a small fleet, the type has demonstrated good operational availability and reliability up until this point.