Taiwan displayed how its fighter jets and early-warning aircraft could land, refuel and take off on a closed motorway yesterday in a scenario simulating a mainland attack that wiped out the island’s air force bases.
The exercise, the first of its kind since 2011, was a reminder of lingering mainland hostilities towards the island despite warming ties between the two rivals.
“The scenario of the drill was that the air bases were severely damaged after intensive bombings of ballistic and cruise missiles by the Chinese communists,” Major General Hung Kuang-min said.
Three jet fighters, an F-16, a Mirage 2000-5 and a home-made Indigenous Defence Fighter, practised landing on a freeway in southern Chiayi county, where they refuelled and loaded missiles and other ammunition before taking off again. The armed F-16 jet took off after it was loaded with AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles and the Indigenous Defence Fighter and the Mirage fighter did the same after they were loaded with AIM-9P4 Sidewinder missiles and MICA air-to-air missiles, the Central News Agency cited the Air Force as saying.
The manoeuvres were the first to feature an E-2K, a US-made early warning aircraft. About 1,200 soldiers were mobilised for the drill, part of war games codenamed “Han Kuang 30” which were designed to evaluate the island’s ability to defend itself against a mainland invasion.
Watch: Fighter jets land on Taiwan highway in ‘China attack’ war games
Ties between Taiwan and the mainland have improved markedly since 2008 after Ma Ying-jeou of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang party came to power on a platform of increasing tourism and trade links. He was re-elected in 2012.
But Beijing still refuses to renounce its use of force against Taiwan should the island declare formal independence. Taiwan and the mainland split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.