PLAAF Su-27 Chased U-2 Into Taiwan Airspace

Here some interesting news from the straights of Taiwan last month that sounds straight out of the Cold War. Apparently, Taiwanese F-16s scrambled to intercept PLAAF Su-27 Flankers that crossed the median line of the Taiwan strait while chasing down an American U-2 Dragon Lady spyplane. The Flanker returned to its base after the Taiwanese jets were scrambled

The U-2 was reportedly flying between Osan Air Base in South Korea to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan when it threaded between the Peoples Republic of China and the Republic of China (Taiwan, but you should know this already).  Wait a second, Korea to Japan via the Taiwan straits? The strait sits almost 300 miles to the southeast of Okinawa. Ok, this sounds like a blatant spy mission.

With all the talk about China’s buildup of area denial weapons and the aftermath of the 2001 EP-3 incident you’d think we’d lean toward using satellites and drones like the U-2’s unmanned sibling the RQ-4 Global Hawk or the stealthy RQ-170 Sentinel (rumored to be flying out of Osan).

This may be a reminder of just how limited our unmanned airborne intel collecting resources are despite all the talk of sensor miniaturization and the ability of drones (or even a fifth gen fighter) to perform the intel duties of much larger cold war-vintage intel birds. I mean, the U-2 was supposed to have been replaced by the Global Hawk a while ago. But, the Dragon Lady can still carry more spy gear than the Global Hawk and there are more U-2 available for spy missions than there are RQ-4s.

Via Alert 5.

Update — Apparently this was the first time in a decade that PRC fighters have crossed into Taiwanese airspace. Meanwhile, the Adm. Mike Mullen says that the U.S. won’t stop these recce flights off the coast of mainland China.

From the Telegraph (UK):

However, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, told reporters in Washington that the US would “not be deterred from flying in international airspace”. He said: “The Chinese would see us move out of there. We’re not going to do that, from my perspective. These reconnaissance flights are important”.

  • CCD

    Straights? Fanker?

    • Altro

      Beat me to it!

  • Mastro

    The U2 pilot hopefully got danger pay. You know you are going to get about 20 flybys by afterburning fighters on that mission.

    Plus the fact that the U2 is a beast to handle.

    I hope the intel was worth it.

    • guest

      I am sure it was, they got at least one piece they were looking for! The U2 DL was kept because it can get more detailed intel than any other platform

  • Ben

    Technically, the Chinese Su-27s didn’t cross into Taiwanese airspace, but they did cross the middle dividing line of the Strait, which is informally considered to be the boundary of the Strait between which aircraft of each side will not pass into the other side (i.e., Taiwanese fighters will not cross into the Chinese half and vice versa.)

    • S O

      Agree, I have not read anything that confirms the airspace violation accusation.

      By his definition of airspace violation, the U-2 would have violated PRC airspace.

  • EJ257

    Wish we still had the SR-71 for this sort of thing.

    • Paul

      Can’t the jsf replace that? :) Why would we keep a paid for, advanced technology asset that’s light years ahead of anything foreign known, when we can have so much fun talking about what is coming soon? Oh yeah, the world is a shiny happy place now, all the bad people turned good…The writing on the wall is looking like the aurora really was just a never built dream.

      Rolls eyes…prays for a candidate to vote for that actually understands the world.

      At least they are trying to extend the a10.

    • blight

      Could be a SIGINT/ELINT run. Don’t recall if the SR’s were configured for that mission…

  • STemplar

    I’m more interested in what the U2 was there to look at.

  • jamesb

    blight look the U-2 photo…WTF is all that stuff added on?

    The US WILL continue to ‘patrol’ that area I’m sure….
    History teaches us the any pilot starpping him/herself into a U2 does so at their own risk…..

  • tribulationTime

    Where the new is?. I am remember more funny one. When China return a EP-3 inside Conexs arranged in nuts, bolts, etc. During Cold War was on daily basis that stuff. We spy them they chase us. Every contested boundary have shuch visits and China it is a concern to other one isn´t chinese.

  • Lance

    I’m with ironV we need a SR-71 for mission like this the SR-71 like the F-14 tomcat’s fate was retired due to Dick Cheney’s budget cuts in the early 1990s. The SR-71 had some Stealth features which primitive Chinese radar wont pick up. Maybe instead of a new bomber a new recon plane would be needed.

  • ‘informed prof’

    The world passed the F-14 by. Remember it was designed and purchased for a single purpose…the Phoenix missile which was fired and used once…and failed !
    Once we had Glasnost with the Russians , the F-14 was only good for plinking Iraqi and Libyan planes.

    The F-18’s do that mission so much better, and they are affordable. Like the SR, the Tomcat was a maintenance nightmare.

    • HeyPeteyboy

      The F-14 did not “fail” per se. It had been mounted incorrectly according to reports. The very fact that the Navy never launched an AIM-54 in anger (except that “Southern Watch” incident) attests to the great respect and fear our adversaries had for it. BTW, Iran used the AIM-54 successfully many times against Iraq. It has even shot down 2 planes with 1 missile (due to it’s HUGE warhead). As their A-54 stockpile was limited, they also used the F-14 and it’s AWG-9 for AEW. As you know, there are just so many man-hours in a day. But we still fear Iranian Tomcats for good reason. IMO.

  • Ripper

    F-18s don’t have the legs and need to be refueled often.

  • awesome

    Taiwan wants to BUY upgraded f-16’s yet we aren’t selling it to them.

    Too bad China holds over 1 trillion of our debt FFS.

    I would really like to f up the commies right now.

  • justaying

    Straights?

    I suppose your inability to spell words from your native language is also the fault of the Chinese? Take some time out from beating your war drum to read a book, neocon.

  • Bhu

    Any idea what altitude this chase took place at? Su27 listed as 62,000 ft max, within missile range. SR-71’s speed would made it safer

  • Justinviewer

    Coordination, Integration is the key. How about using a space spy satellite w/ hubble telliscope attach to it w/ sophisticated radar w/ wide area coverage to monitor the area?

  • Dfens

    Thank God we retired the SR-71 and kept this piece of crap. After all, it’s cheaper. Sounds like they’ll need to give Lockheed another contract to upgrade the U-2 after this little embarrassment. After all, that’s what our military is really about, making sure the contractors make as much money as possible.

  • John Moore

    what happens if we keep this up and some trigger happy jet jock fro China does the same thing as the jet jock did with the P-3 then do we got to WW-III just for the fun of it. someone is not thinking stright here in my book.

  • Dfens

    Even if we had the force, no one believes we have the guts to use it. China will take Taiwan without firing a shot before the end of this decade.

  • Tony C

    U2 flies slow and gets better snapshots than teh SR-71 at 80,000 feet.
    I doubt the SU-27’s got very close to the U2 at altitude, but the missiles
    could have reached the bird at that height. Maybe the U2’s have more advanced countermeasures than they did in teh 1960’s?

  • anthony

    I also miss the habu or SR-71 +3 meaning….. … .. . but the newest one is on drawing boards and we will wait the out comst of this baby..

  • Riceball

    What’s with the ‘the’ in front of Adm. Mike Mullen?

  • Jim Ed

    What do any of these posts have to do with real issues here? Whether or not the US gathered any intel isn’t the issue. The US was keeping an avenue open, i.e. use it or lose it. And as far as building a new aircraft goes the US hasn’t even been able to keep the most sensitive nuclear information out of the Peoples Republic of China’s (PRC) hands The PRC has been able to access every computer system that contains every blue print and the technicial data the US has anyway. It’s only a matter of time until the US can no longer threaten the PRC and get away with it. This is what the mission was about: Can the US still get away with flying an aircraft near the PRC. When the US losses an aircraft the balance will tip a little farther towards the PRC. Perhaps this was the intent of the spy mission, to determine who currently holds the upper hand.

  • Bob

    Just our government wasting more money.

  • Bob

    We already know the Chinese are preparing themselves militarily to kick our butts. They have done so finanacially as I predicted in the 1980s and will do so militarily within twenty years. Their government, right or wrong, is patient which is something seriously lacking in America at large.

  • Bob

    Make that twenty to fifty years. Patience. The Chinese will wait until the time is right to destroy us.

  • I_Spy

    bla, bla, bla, who knows why the U-2 was up there for sure. AC strayed, PRC response test, intel collection, sunday drive, etc. I can’t wait for Football to start so all these armchair quarterback have something else to focus on. Even if your in intel, unless you have access you wouldn’t know for sure if then. The U-2 has unique capabilities still unduplicated. And any aircraft can be shot down…. last i knew even the SR-71 had to land or at least slow for fuel….. and now you have my bla, bla….. moving on.

  • Jimmy

    What’s interesting to me: the platform is still good after all these years…In 1962 thru 1964 we were flying the U2 over the PRC to keep an eye on their nuclear weapons program as per Kennedy’s request. We were working out of Okinawa and some other places then, it’s like nothing ever changes… The platform was upgraded every few months (defensive avionics, engines). Just think how much better it is after 48 years…

    • Dfens

      Just think of how much money Lockheed has made off that crappy, slow, POS since 1962! It boggles the mind.

  • bzzoff

    When I come to Military.com, I always think that the comments here will be those of Current Military Active Duty or Retired Military OR…just Plain Veterans.

    I can’t believe some of the F***ing shit I read on this Site! I am PRO-AMERICAN. I AM PRO-MILITARY. You nor I ARE NO LONGER IN-SERVICE. THAT SAID, Either SUPPORT YOUR MILITARY or go take your Suppository.

    Your already fighting the Enemy: Obama and all his Henchmen. WTF, Gentlemen???

    Been around this block a long time. I have always FELT….Let US KILL’EM ALL and then let GOD SORT’em OUT rather than us being the FIRST ones to take heat!

    I would say, SEMPER FI….but I was Air Force and then Army and then A.F. Retired!

    You get the message…I hope…Bitch!

  • Dfens

    In other news of the slow, Lockheed managed to crash a blimp into Pennsylvania yesterday. The blimp is what they plan on using to replace the U-2. In other news, small tremors were reported to be radiating from the Kelly Johnson grave site. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld…

  • Twrbuzr

    Consider this, you worry about what you need to take care of and let those of us active duty aircraft maintenance, intel, comm, CE, security forces, and all other AFSC enlisted and officers take care of this. Sit back, relax and enjoy your FREEDOM.

  • The Word

    That is true Bob and corporate America will continue to fund their military. We can thank Target, wal-mart and Bill Clinton for putting America in this situation. We gave the gooks too much and soon will pay the price.

  • James

    Great airplane. former member 4028th SRWS Davis Monthan AFB, AZ

  • Juan G

    The aircraft now referred to as the U2, is only superficially similar to the 1960’s era aircraft. It is vastly more capable than the original aircraft. It carries sensors that provide very adequate capability for the mission it is assigned, however no single sensor package is capable of collecting all the data we require to evaluate the emerging threat. The SR-71 would still be flying if we couldn’t collect the data using other means. The relative cost effectiveness of the U2 combined with its flexibility and paid up asset status makes it a viable platform for many years in the future. It is far less costly to design a sensor module for the U2 than to design a new platform of any kind. As with most things that fly, all capabilities are some sort of a compromise. Bottom line, the U2 still works.

  • Dfens

    Slow, high flying, and highly visible — not a recipe for success today or ever. The U-2 has only been a success for Lockheed who has made megadollars off the everlasting upgrades. The SR-71 didn’t need upgrades which sealed its fate. No procurement bureacracy means a limited life regardless of success in today’s DoD where onl 15% fight wars and the other 85% tell them how it should be done.

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