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CHINESE MILITARY DRILL: 49 AIRCRAFT, 26 VESSELS BREACH TAIWAN'S AIR DEFENSE ZONE AFTER LAI'S INAUGURATION AND NORTH KOREA'S RECON SATELLITE LAUNCH FAILS; ROCKET EXPLODES AFTER TRILATERAL SUMMIT

May 23-30, 2024 | Issue 21 - PACOM and Weapons/Tactics Team

Samuel Pearson, Mrinmoy Routh, Zara Price, Chloe Woodbine, Léonard Vacelet-Revolio, Leon Kille, Mateo Maya, Martina Sclaverano, Siddhesh Shimpukade, Agathe Labadi.

Alya Fathia Fitri, Editor; Evan Beachler, Senior Editor


Maritime Ops: Joint Operations With The Japan Maritime In The South China Sea[1]


Date: May 23, 2024

Location: Taiwan Strait

Parties involved: Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te; Republic of China (Taiwan); Taiwan Ministry of National Defense (MoND); Taiwan military; Taiwan Air Force; Taiwan Navy; People’s Republic of China (PRC-China); China’s People Liberation Army (PLA); People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN); People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF); China Coast Guard (CCG); Taiwan’s allies; USA

The event: Taiwanese authorities detected 49 PLAAF aircraft, 19 PLAN, and 7 CCG vessels around the Taiwan Strait median line. Thirty-five of the detected aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait and entered the north, central, and southwest parts of Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).[2] These incursions occurred during the Chinese large-scale military drill launched on May 23, three days after the inauguration of Lai.[3] The drill included aircraft in attack formations simulating joint strikes against land targets in coordination with PLAN ships and naval forces operated close to Taiwan’s eastern shore for the first time.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The PRC likely intends to threaten Taiwan’s territory and supply chains by entering Taiwan’s ADIZ. The direction of the flights likely demonstrates the PRC's capability to surround the island and intercept shipping and air traffic, showing increasing regional power. The PRC capability demonstration very likely aims to highlight Taiwan's strategic vulnerabilities, thereby increasing Taiwan's fear of an invasion and direct military confrontations. PRC leadership is likely exploiting Taiwan’s concern and intends to induce Taiwanese cooperation and limit perceived independence aspirations. Future PRC incursions will likely target the southern and northern ends of the strait across the median line, while flights elsewhere in the ADIZ will likely overfly the seas east of Taiwan.  

  • PLAAF and PLAN forces will likely intensify operations around Taiwan, but direct combat with Taiwanese forces remains unlikely. Chinese forces will very likely seek to assert air and maritime control surrounding the Taiwan Strait, likely attempting to control escalation by limiting deployed forces such as rocket forces. The PLAN and CCG forces’ harassment tactics and the Taiwan Navy following their vessels will likely increase tensions at sea and heighten instability; however, these effects will likely subside without an additional incident in cross-strait relations. China's air incursions will very likely prompt Taiwan’s military to intensify air defense exercises, strengthening its reaction capabilities, including surface-to-air and anti-ship missile drills.

  • Escalating incursions into Taiwan’s ADIZ with domestically produced J-16 aircraft will very likely demonstrate domestic military capabilities and put pressure on Taiwan. These tactics will likely fuel protests and political turmoil, eroding confidence in Taiwan's leadership and defense readiness. The increased military presence will likely remind Taiwan and its allies, such as the USA, of China's capabilities, prompting a reassessment of defense strategies and cooperation.


Date: May 27, 2024

Location: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Parties involved: North Korea; North Korea's National Aerospace Technology Administration (NATA); Korean People’s Army (KPA); Japan; Japan Ministry of Defense; Republic of Korea (ROK); Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND); People’s Republic of China (PRC-China); USA; Russia

The event: During North Korea's latest attempt to launch a new military reconnaissance satellite, the carrier rocket exploded during the first stage of the flight. North Korea fired the rocket on a southern path off its west coast at around 1044 local time, aiming for a polar orbit circling the Earth vertically.[5] The event occurred after Japan, China, and South Korea held their first trilateral summit in four years.[6] Pyongyang previously issued a warning to Japan that it would try to launch a satellite by June 4.[7] 

Analysis & Implications:

  • Regional powers such as Japan and South Korea will likely strengthen their trilateral security cooperation to limit North Korea’s nuclear developments and very likely maintain stability in the Korean peninsula. Japan, South Korea, and the US will likely increase surveillance measures using GEOINT and IMINT around North Korea until June 4. The trilateral summit between China, Japan, and South Korea will likely set precedents for joint cooperation efforts to monitor North Korea’s nuclear developments. Multilateral agreements between North Korea’s neighboring countries, especially China, such as commitments to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, will have a roughly even chance of deterring Pyongyang from unannounced testing.

  • North Korea will likely seek a global surveillance capability in the near future. North Korea will likely attempt another launch of a reconnaissance satellite operating in a polar orbit to obtain imagery of the globe every 24 hours. This intelligence will likely aid North Korea in accessing data on US and allied forces’ movements, with a roughly even chance of exposing them to targeting by the North Korean military. In the case of open hostilities, high-quality images from the satellite will likely help the North Korean army plan its military response.

  • North Korea will likely strengthen diplomatic and military ties with Russia and China to bolster its geopolitical stance and counter the increasing US involvement in the East Asian region. KPA and NATA will likely collaborate further with Russia regarding satellite and ICBM technology to increase operability, range, and payloads. Russia will likely use channels through North Korea, strengthening its shared intelligence and military cooperation with China to counter international sanctions and obtain weapon components or systems. Unlock the Power of Knowledge with The Counter Threat Center! Elevate your threat detection capabilities with critical intelligence on global threats. Join us for a free trial and equip yourself to safeguard those you've sworn to protect. Click here to learn more: https://www.counterthreatcenter.com/subscriptions

 

[1] Maritime Ops by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Lucas Herzog, licensed under Public Domain (The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.)

[2] Ministry of National Defense, X, May 2024, https://x.com/MoNDefense/status/1793669053980295203

[3] China warns of Taiwan 'war' as military drills encircle island, VOA, May 2024, https://www.voanews.com/a/china-warns-of-taiwan-war-as-military-drills-encircle-island/7625285.html

[5] North Korea says its latest satellite launch exploded in flight, Reuters, May 2024, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/north-korea-fires-suspected-rocket-after-warning-satellite-launch-2024-05-27/

[6] South Korea, China, Japan joint declaration after first summit in four years, Reuters, May 2024, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/south-korea-china-japan-joint-declaration-after-first-summit-four-years-2024-05-27/

[7] North Korea says its latest satellite launch exploded in flight, Reuters, May 2024, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/north-korea-fires-suspected-rocket-after-warning-satellite-launch-2024-05-27/

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