Chinese J-16 jet fighter

Chinese warplanes in Taiwan’s ADIZ in 2022 – Part 1

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Since several years Chinese warplanes enter Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, or short ADIZ. In the beginning these have been infrequent intrusions of a few planes. But over the years the number of intrusions, as well as the number of warplanes have increased. China uses this as exercise for their air force pilots, as psychological warfare to intimidate Taiwanese people, and as a way to express dissatisfaction regarding US-Taiwan relations.

Data source

In this article Chinese warplane intrusions for the year 2022 are summarized. The data was compiled from daily press releases of the Ministry of National Defense, Republic of China. All data is publicly available on the website of the MND here.

The data covers the time from 01. January 2022 to 31. December 2022 and only includes warplanes that have entered the ADIZ. MND also releases information about military vessel and other aircraft activities around Taiwan. But this data does not list specific types and routes of aircrafts. It is also not clear what “around Taiwan” means. Therefore, this data was excluded.

Number and types of Chinese warplanes

In the year 2022 in total 1740 warplanes have intruded Taiwan’s ADIZ. The vast majority were jet fighters, followed by different types of reconnaissance and electronic warfare planes, and bombers. Drones and helicopters appeared later in 2022 in small numbers. But it can be expected, China will use drones more frequently in 2023.

summary of Chinese warplanes that entered Taiwan's ADIZ

The table below lists all aircraft types that entered Taiwan’s ADIZ in 2022. Throughout the year the aircraft types have changed. Mainly since the visit of Nancy Pelosi in August 2022, China started sending more drones and different types of jet fighters. Details of this change and patterns in aircraft deployment will be discussed in part 2 of this series. In 2022 new and advanced aircraft showed up the first time in Taiwan’s ADIZ. For example the WZ-7 drone, which is fairly new and in service since 2018, appeared the first time in Taiwan’s ADIZ.

Shenyang J-16multirole strike fighter565
Shenyang J-11air superiority fighter248
Sukhoi Su-30air superiority fighter243
Chengdu J-10 Vigorous Dragonmultirole combat aircraft138
Shaanxi Y-8 ASWanti submarine warfare124
Xian H-6strategic bomber101
Shaanxi Y-8 EWelectronic warfare64
Xian JH-7fighter bomber54
Shaanxi Y-8 RECCEreconnaissance aircraft32
Shaanxi KJ-500 AEW&Cairborne early warning and control32
Harbin BZK-005 UAVreconnaissance drone31
Shaanxi Y-8 ELINTelectronic intelligence22
Harbin BZK-007 UAVreconnaissance drone17
Kamov Ka-28 ASWanti submarine warfare13
CASC Rainbow CH-4 UCAVcombat drone12
Shaanxi Y-9 EWelectronic warfare9
Harbin Z-9 ASWanti submarine warfare9
Guizhou WZ-7 UAVreconnaissance drone7
Shenyang J-16Delectronic warfare4
Tengden TB-001 UCAVcombat drone4
Xian Y-20 Kunpengtanker3
CAIC Z-10 (WZ-10)attack helicopter3
Sukhoi Su-35air superiority fighter2
KVD-001 UAVreconnaissance drone1
Shaanxi Y-9 CCcommunication countermeasure1
Mil Mi-17 Cargotransport1

Active times

Intrusions into the ADIZ happened on 266 days during the year, which is almost ¾ of the year. The activity varies between months and depends on Chinas anger about US-Taiwan relations. When China is happy, the number of warplanes is low. When China is dissatisfied with the relations, they start sending larger numbers of warplanes.

The most prominent example was in August 2022 when Nancy Pelosi, at that time the speaker of the United States House of Representatives, visited Taiwan. Her visit, which can be debated, triggered a strong military response from China. During August the Chinese sent 448 warplanes into Taiwan’s ADIZ and held extensive military exercises around Taiwan. After this incident the numbers dropped, but remained high compared to the first half of 2022. It can be expected, that warplane intrusions remain on a high level for the next months or even years as US-China-Taiwan relations are not the best now.

number of Chinese warplanes in Taiwan's ADIZ by month

Regions of Chinese warplane intrusions

The activities of Chinese warplanes are limited to two main regions: the south-western corner of Taiwan’s ADIZ and the median line. In other regions of the ADIZ very little activities happend. But since the data only shows intrusions into the ADIZ, it is not clear what happens outside of the ADIZ.

By far the most activities (62% of all warplanes operated here) happened in the south-western corner of the ADIZ. And 34% of all warplanes crossed the median line. Crossing the median line is a symbolic act of China to show Taiwan and the US that they don’t care about historic borders. The median line is not an official border, but it was treated and respected as a symbolic border between China and Taiwan in the past.

map showing most active regions of Chinese warplane intrusions

Even though Chinese warplanes enter Taiwan’s ADIZ, they still operate in international airspace. In 2022 not one single incident of a Chinese plane entering Taiwanese airspace happend. At least there was nothing officially reported. Moreover, most of the activities happen relatively far away from Taiwan. The south-western corner of the ADIZ is about 200 km away from Taiwan’s south coast or almost 500 km away from Taiwan’s capital Taipei.

Numbers of warplane intrusions might look dramatic. But when taking a closer look, what I will do in part 2 of this series, an imminent attack on Taiwan is not visible.

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