Why Chinese bombers suddenly flew so close to Okinawa

China on Nov. 19 again sent bombers and intelligence-gathering aircraft through international airspace between the islands of Okinawa and Miyako in the East China Sea, part of what Beijing has called continued “regular” exercises in the area.

Japan scrambled fighters in response, though no violation of Japanese airspace was detected.

Four H-6 bombers and two intelligence-gathering aircraft flew a route that took them through the Miyako Strait and back. The flight was believed to be the first through the passageway since August, when six Chinese bombers flew near Kansai’s Kii Peninsula for the first time.

China, under powerful President Xi Jinping, has embarked on a large-scale campaign of modernizing its military — especially its air force and navy — as it seeks to project power farther from its shores.

KH-11 image showing a Xian H-6 Badger. (National Reconnaissance Office photo)

In a speech during a twice-a-decade Communist Party congress in October, Xi said China is aiming to become a “world-class” force that safeguards the country’s “territorial integrity.”

Beijing is embroiled in a dispute in the East China Sea with Tokyo over the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, known as the Diaoyus in China.

However, the Defense Ministry in Tokyo said last month it had scrambled fighter jets through September — the first half of fiscal 2017 — a total of 287 times, down 120 times from the same time period in the previous year.

Read More: Navy sends McCain to challenge Beijing in South China Sea

Despite the fall, the ministry documented an uptick in “unusual” flights, including the August drill in skies off the Kii Peninsula.

Last year, the Air Self-Defense Force scrambled fighters 1,168 times, the most since records began being kept in 1958, besting the previous high of 944 — a figure that came at the height of the Cold War in 1984.

China’s military has also sent aircraft, including bombers and fighters, on long-range missions over the Bashi Channel and the Miyako Strait as well as through the Tsushima Strait from the East China Sea into the Sea of Japan and back.

China's Type 815 Dongdiao-class auxiliary general intelligence vessel ship. Photo from Commonwealth of Australia.

China’s Type 815 Dongdiao-class auxiliary general intelligence vessel ship. Photo from Commonwealth of Australia.

In July, the Chinese military sent ships and planes through international but politically sensitive waters and airspace near Japan as part of its continuing push to hone its ability to operate further from its shores.

At the time, the Chinese Defense Ministry said Japan “should not make a fuss about nothing or over-interpret, it will be fine once they get used to it.”

Beijing has blasted Japan for hyping the flights, calling them part of “regular” drills, while Tokyo has said it will keep a steady eye on the “expanding and increasing” actions of the Chinese military in the area.

TOP ARTICLES
Nigeria will spend a billion dollars to fight Boko Haram

Boko Haram, once one of the most feared groups in Africa, is still a problem. Nigeria, however, has decided they aren't putting up with them anymore.

ISIS may have obtained anti-tank missiles from the CIA

Somehow, ISIS has gotten a hold of weapons purchased by the CIA and Saudi Arabia and dispersed, without permission from either, to allied fighters.

How the Army plans to counter massive drone attacks

The United States military is experiencing more and more drone attacks in combat zones, and they have a plan to start shooting them down faster.

Marines want to swarm enemy defenses with hundreds of small boats

It looks like the Marine Corps is ready to get their own boats instead of borrowing them from the Navy all the time. Is this the end of water taxis?

This bearded Marine brings joy to the Corps

He's making a gear list. He's checking it twice. Gonna find out who's boot or grunt. Gunny Clause is coming on base. So stand at ease, kiddos.

This new device helps amputees manage phantom limb pain

Amira Idris designed a device helps amputees experiencing the phenomenon known as phantom limb pain (PLP) — and now she's giving the device to vets.

5 stories you may have missed for the week of December 16th

With everything going on in the world, it's difficult to keep track of every story that pops up. Check the stories you may have missed this week.

This is why the U.S.military uses 5.56mm ammo instead of 7.62mm

A common debate among gun enthusiasts revolves around why the U.S. chose to implement the 5.56mm N.A.T.O. round into service instead of the 7.62mm.

Combat Flip Flops are all about freedom — and not just for your feet

Buy a comfy pair of flip flops — put Afghanistan to work. Buy your lady a sarong — put an Afghan girl through school. This is global democracy, step two.

The 13 funniest military memes for the week of Dec. 15

I hope you're ready for a Star Wars heavy meme cache this week. A lot happened since the last meme call, but c'mon... we know what you really care about.