Taiwanese Troops On Kinmen Shoot Down Civilian Chinese Drone For First Time

Taiwan’s military announced on Thursday that troops on Kinmen had shot down a civilian drone believed to have been flown from China earlier that day, the first time such a drone intruding into Taiwanese airspace has been shot down. 

In a statement, the Kinmen Defense Command said that an unidentified civilian camera drone had been detected flying in a restricted area near Shi Island at 12:03 pm local time on Thursday. In keeping with recently publicized guidelines, troops garrisoned on the island fired off flares warning the drone operator before reporting the drone incursion to command. After the drone operator did not respond to further warnings to fly the drone out of the restricted area, the drone was shot down. No details were provided on how the drone was shot down.

The shootdown follows a disclosure by Kinmen Defense Command on Tuesday that troops on the island had fired live rounds to drive back four civilian drones that had entered several restricted areas on separate occasions around Kinmen earlier that day. According to the command’s report at the time, one drone was seen flying towards Xiamen after departing a restricted area on Tuesday evening.

During a visit to Penghu on August 30, President Tsai described the drone incursions as a “grey zone” tactic by Beijing to retain pressure on Taipei despite the end of Beijing’s military exercises off Taiwan’s coast, saying that she had directed the defense ministry to take “suitably strong responses” to such incursions to secure Taiwanese airspace. In a speech to troops at a base she visited there, Tsai stressed that while Taipei would not provide Beijing with an excuse to escalate tensions, Taiwanese restraint did not mean that Taiwan’s military would not respond at all.

Taiwan’s response to this series of incursions by civilian drones became the focus of attention after a PRC hobbyist drone operator uploaded a recording of two Taiwanese soldiers manning a guardhouse in Kinmen’s Lieyu Township in August to social media. The video showed one of the soldiers attempting to down the drone by throwing rocks at it, sparking Taiwanese debate on whether troops garrisoned on the islands were suitably equipped to respond to such incursions.