On Tuesday, the US sent two long-range bombers into China’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), according to the flight monitor Aircraft Spots. The provocative flights took place while China was holding large naval exercises in the region.
According to Aircraft Spots, two US B-1B Lancer bombers took off from Anderson Air Force Base in Guam and entered China’s ADIZ over the East China Sea. The US regularly conducts surveillance flights in the region using military spy planes. Sending B-1B bombers close to China’s coast is likely a show of force meant to send a message to Beijing.
An ADIZ is airspace where a country requires aircraft to identify themselves in the interest of national security. Beijing set up its ADIZ in the East China Sea in 2013, which the US and Japan do not recognize.
China’s ADIZ includes airspace over the Senkaku Islands, known as the Diaoyus in China. China, Taiwan, and Japan all claim the Senkakus, and Tokyo currently administers them.
When China first established the ADIZ, the US responded by flying two B-52 bombers into the airspace. Aircraft Spots said the B-1Bs that flew in the area on Tuesday almost reached the northeast corner of Taiwan’s ADIZ. According to The South China Morning Post, the flights coincided with Chinese naval drills held simultaneously in the South China Sea, East China Sea, and Bohai Sea.
The US has significantly stepped up flights near China’s coast this year. The South China Sea Probing Initiative (SCSPI), a Beijing-based think tank, recorded an uptick in US military flights earlier in the year. The SCSPI published a report last week that found the US was also using private airplanes to conduct surveillance flights in the region.