At a moment of boiling tensions surrounding Taiwan, its military says it chased away a Chinese drone by firing warning shots as a UAV buzzed a heavily fortified island that has long been under Taiwanese control.
The Taiwanese Defense Ministry believes what was at first deemed an “unidentified drone” was possibly probing its Taiwan’s defenses as it “glanced by” Dongyin island, which lies near the Chinese coast but has been in Taiwan’s hands since 1949.
“The Dongyin command fired flares at the drone to warn it away, the ministry said, without identifying it further,” writes Reuters. “A senior official familiar with the security planning in the region told Reuters that it was a Chinese drone, likely one of the country’s new CSC-005 drones.”
Though a relatively minor encounter, said to be the second such incident involving a Chinese drone this year, the engagement suggests the ease with which a small unplanned incident could trigger bigger escalation, even leading to a shooting war.
Considered the front line of Taiwan’s defenses, Dongyin island is described as follows in Reuters:
It is the northernmost territory Taiwan holds, sitting at the top end of the Taiwan Strait, a choke point through which at least part of any Chinese invading force would have to traverse.
Military experts believe Dongyin’s forces are equipped with Taiwan’s self-made Hsiung Feng II anti-ship missile as well as Sky Bow II surface-to-air missiles.
In recent years Chinese PLA jets have flown into or near Taiwan’s ‘Air Defense Identification Zone’ on an almost weekly basis, which Taipei sees as a threat. Taiwan typically scrambles fighters to warn off and ‘mirror’ PLA jets, however without any kind of firing incident.
#Taiwan (🇹🇼) fired flares to warn away a drone that “glanced by” the airspace of Dongyin island, one of the Matsu islands.
— Aerospace Intelligence (@space_osint) July 28, 2022
This fresh encounter between Taiwan and PLA weaponry comes as the entirety of the democratic-run island of Taiwan is engaged in ‘invasion preparedness’ drills – an annual exercise – which has a civilian response as well as military components, including emergency alerts and evacuation simulations conducted in cities and towns.