Tainan, Taiwan’s Air Force on Tuesday conducted a rare public drill of loading a type of locally made cruise missiles that reportedly has a range within reach of coastal Chinese provinces to one of its fighters, amid increasing military threats from the other side of the Taiwan Strait.
In a drill held at the southern Tainan air base, flight crew from the First Tactical Fighter Wing deployed the Wan Chien (10 thousand swords) air-to-ground cruise missiles on an Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) jet.
The missile, developed by the military’s top research unit, the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), is said to be able to hit Chinese airports and military units in coastal Fujian and Guangdong provinces if fired by Taiwanese fighter jets from around the median line of the strait.
Col. Lee Ching-shi (李慶熙), head of Political Warfare of the First Tactical Fighter Wing, however, declined to comment on the range of the missile or if Air Force fighters have already been armed with the armament on routine patrols.
The drill opening to the press was part of the pre-Lunar New Year combat readiness drill the nation’s military holds annually ahead of the long vacation to show to the public that the armed forces are combat-ready at all times.
On Tuesday, an emergency take-off drill was also held at the Tainan base to simulate a Chinese air invasion scenario. It only took around five minutes for an IDF to take off after its pilot heard the scramble alarm.
The drill was held after Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) sent a total of 29 military aircraft to Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the past three days.
The latest intrusion the previous day marks the 21st day in January alone that China’s military has sent aircraft into the nation’s ADIZ as Beijing continues to intensify its military pressure on Taiwan.
Asked to comment on the high frequency of Chinese intrusions, Lee admitted that the Air Force is under tremendous pressure but will always be ready for combat missions to safeguard the nation’s airspace.
Meanwhile, Lee said the Taichung-based Third Tactical Fighter Wing has deployed another squadron of IDF jets at Magong Airport in offshore Penghu County, an archipelago of 90 islands in Taiwan Strait, so that it will be able to respond immediately to any activity from Chinese military aircraft.
The squadron, named Tien Chu (Sky Horse) troop, has been stationed from April to September each year at Penghu since 1964 and has since then served as part of the country’s front-line air defenses.
Each year, Tainan-based First Tactical Fighter Wing and Taichung-based Third Tactical Fighter Wing take turns to be responsible for the Penghu deployment.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel