Japanese Fighters Intercept Three Chinese Drones In As Many Days

Japanese Fighters Intercept Three Chinese Drones In As Many Days

For the third time in as many days, the Japan Air Self Defense Force has sent fighter jets out to monitor drones belonging to China’s People’s Liberation Army flying in the East China Sea and the Miyako Strait, which lies southwest of the island of Okinawa. These intercepts underscore the Chinese military’s growing unmanned aircraft capabilities, as well as the strategic significance of this body of water, which is one of a number of maritime passages linking the East China Sea to the Philippine Sea, and the broader Western Pacific Ocean.

This recent flurry of activity began on Aug. 24, 2021, when a lone Tengoen TB-001 Scorpion medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) drone flew into the East China Sea northwest of Okinawa. A single People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Harbin BZK-005 MALE drone then flew a sortie back and forth through the Miyako Strait yesterday. Today, another TB-001 conducted a similar flight through the Miyako Strait. In all three cases, the JASDF scrambled fighters to investigate the Chinese drones’ activities.

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