Military drones among Chinese UAVs flying over Taiwan’s outlying islands

Taiwan's military is now armed with jamming guns and authorized to shoot down drones.
By RFA Staff
Military drones among Chinese UAVs flying over Taiwan’s outlying islands The Taiwanese military authorized soldiers to take strong countermeasures against drone intrusions in Kinmen.
Taiwan Ministry of Defense

Chinese drones, including military ones, continue to fly into the skies over Taiwan after the military shot down a civilian drone in outlying Kinmen County last week.

Taiwan’s defense ministry said on two consecutive days, Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drones were detected flying in areas surrounding the island, including a BZK-007 tactical reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that crossed into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Monday.

An ADIZ is an area where foreign aircraft are tracked and identified before entering further into a country's airspace.

The ministry also released the flight path of the BZK-007 that was spotted inside Taiwan’s ADIZ, east of the median line of the Taiwan Strait. This is the first time such information was made public.

BZK-007 is China’s indigenous UAV, manufactured by the Guizhou Aircraft Industry Corporation. It is equipped with infrared cameras and remote sensors for reconnaissance purposes.

Another PLA UAV was detected on Sunday, the defense ministry said without giving further details.

Meanwhile the Kinmen Defense Command said on Friday, one day after troops stationed on Lion (also known as Shi or Shihyu) islet shot down an unidentified civilian drone, that two batches of drones were spotted in Little Kinmen (Lieyu) island but they flew away after warnings.

Lion and Little Kinmen are two of the numerous islands in Kinmen County, 180 kilometers (112 miles) from Taiwan’s main island but less than 10 kilometers (6 miles) from China.

Patrolling guards in Kinmen also discovered some food packages, allegedly dropped by drones onto the beach.

Food packages allegedly dropped by drones on to the beach in Kinmen, Sept. 2. CREDIT: Taiwan Ministry of Defense

Frequent intrusions

Since mid-August, Chinese civilian drones have been spotted flying frequently over Kinmen and, on a number of occasions, they caught the Taiwanese military off guard.

On Aug. 16, a video clip deemed “highly embarrassing” by the Taiwanese public was posted on Chinese social media showing two Kinmen soldiers throwing rocks at a Chinese drone when it was flying above their military post.

The Taiwanese military afterwards deployed anti-drone jamming guns to Kinmen and authorized soldiers to fire warning shots and signal flares as countermeasures.

Last week the defense ministry announced that troops will begin shooting down Chinese drones if they don’t heed warnings and still fly into the airspace over Taiwan’s restricted waters.

Drone gunman.jpg
The Taiwanese military authorized soldiers to take strong countermeasures against drone intrusions in Kinmen. CREDIT: Taiwan Ministry of Defense

Chinese authorities acknowledged the drone incidents but said they were “flying over China’s territory.” Beijing considers Taiwan one of its provinces and “an inalienable part of China.” 

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokeswoman Zhu Fenglian was quoted as accusing Taiwan’s ruling party of “intentionally hyping up the incidents to stoke tensions.”

The Taiwanese Foreign Ministry for its part accused the Chinese Communist Party of being a “regional troublemaker” that has made “harassing other countries a daily routine.”

There are concerns that Chinese drones could interfere with civil aviation, endangering the safety of passengers. In 2019, the Taiwanese legislature approved a project to build a drone defense system for domestic airports including Taoyuan - Taiwan’s largest international airport.

The Taoyuan project hasn’t made any progress in three years, according to the official Central News Agency (CNA).

Li Jun-de, deputy general manager of Taoyuan Airport, was quoted as saying that drone intrusions in the past three years affected 34 flights and around 2,000 passengers.


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