from Business Insider
After repeatedly flying surveillance aircraft into disputed airspace with Japan, which made Tokyo scramble F-15s in response, China sent fighters of its own on Thursday into the East China Sea.
A Friday press release out of China confirms the incident began when Beijing was flying a Shaanxi Y-8 on a “routine Thursday patrol” over the “oil and gas fields in the East China Sea.”
The fact that the aircraft was a Shaanxi Y-8 is interesting in that the Y-8 isn’t necessarily any one particular aircraft.
The Diplomat calls the Y-8 a transport plane, and it can be, but the aircraft has more than 30 variants. The Y-8 performs everything from Mineral Research, to Geophysical Surveying, to Electronic Warfare to Intelligence Gathering and one variant is simply an innocuous but lethal fully loaded gunship, with two heavy cannons and three heavy machine guns.
It’s the perfect plane for a game of cat and mouse because if the Y-8 ever received fire from Japan’s F-15s, China could simply maintain it was an unarmed transport model carrying troops, or the Y8-F model that carries only livestock
.In the meantime, the plane can perform all manner of sophisticated tests on the seabed floor, while eavesdropping on Japanese communications. China has been flying these planes consistently
lately to surveil the contested island chain that’s supposed to hold billions in oil and gas reserves.