Taiwan, claimed by China as its territory, has been on edge since the large-scale incursion by Chinese fighters and nuclear-capable bombers into the southwestern part of its air defence identification zone on Saturday (January 23) and Sunday (January 25), which coincided with a U.S. carrier group entering the South China Sea.
The base in the southern city of Tainan, home to F-CK-1 Ching-kuo Indigenous Defence Fighters (IDF), frequently scrambles jets to intercept China's air force. In a hardened shelter, flight crew from the First Tactical Fighter Wing rushed to ready two IDFs as an alarm bell rang out, aiming to get them off the ground within five minutes of an emergency call, armed with U.S.-made Sidewinders and domestically-developed Wan Chien air-to-ground cruise missiles.
China has provided no public explanation for what its aircraft were doing at the weekend. Washington responded by calling on China to cease pressuring Taiwan and reaffirming its commitment to the democratic island.