China sent a Ka-28 anti-submarine helicopter to harass Taiwan on Wednesday, February 16th. There was a heated discussion about whether it was an armed helicopter. After analysis, two Taiwanese scholars Jie Zhong 揭仲 and Lin Yingyou 林穎佑 said that the tactical significance of anti-submarine helicopters is not huge, but Taiwan still needs to be vigilant.

According to the Central News Agency (CNA), Taiwan’s Air Force announced the incident on Wednesday evening. The three total aircraft, including a Yun-8 electric reconnaissance aircraft, a Yun-8 long-range dry aircraft, and a Ka-28 anti-submarine helicopter, intruded on the Southwest Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) during the day. In response, the Taiwan Air Force followed the usual practice. It dispatched air patrol forces to dispel the helicopter, track and monitor air defense missiles.

According to CNA, among many types of airplanes China uses to disturb Taiwan, the Ka-28 anti-submarine helicopter is a rare one. The initial analysis was that it was an armed helicopter, which raised tension.

However, in an interview with the CNA, Jie Zhong 揭仲, an associate researcher of the National Policy Research Foundation, said that anti-submarine helicopters are mainly to assist warships in performing anti-submarine missions, not to attack the ground.

He said that anti-submarine helicopters are already on warships, and their significance is not as symbolic as armed helicopters.

Jie Zhong said that the tactical significance of anti-submarine helicopters is not so great, and it may be carried out from nearby warships to perform training.

Jie Zhong pointed out that if it is an armed helicopter, it means that it is flying over a long distance from land. And it also means that China might be conducting long-distance attack training in the Taiwan Strait. Jie Zhong suggested that at present Taiwan can only closely observe the actions of the Chinese army, be ready for any potential armed invasion of Taiwan, including increasing its level of combat readiness and counterattack tactics.

Lin Yingyou 林穎佑 is an adjunct assistant professor of English for Asia-Pacific affairs at Sun Yat-sen University, who is an expert on the Chinese military.

He pointed out that the anti-submarine helicopter could fly at a relatively low altitude, and the goal was to test whether the surveillance radar could be controlled in a low-altitude environment, depending on whether it took off from the shore or a ship. If it is a ship, it may be an anti-submarine-related exercise; if it is ashore, it may be conducting anti-submarine or communication data testing.

Professor Lin believes that this is not a new tactic, nor is it an escalation of pressure, as it is only a single flight. However, he reminded that the recent frequent harassment of Taiwan by the Chinese common aircraft may make Taiwanese people feel appeased and then relax vigilance, but it is not alright. The Taiwanese army and the public still need to be vigilant and continue to pay attention to sharpening tactics.

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