Taiwan’s battle skills and training in defending the island’s airspace are praised by President Tsai.
As the island’s yearly military drills neared their zenith, Taiwanese fighter planes landed on a temporary runway on a stretch of highway.
On Wednesday, President Tsai Ing-wen, who has promised to modernize Taiwan’s military, saw the show.
China has increased pressure on the self-ruled region in an attempt to force the democratically elected government to recognise Beijing’s sovereignty, notably through regular military drills near Taiwan.
Tsai, who was re-elected by a landslide last year on a promise to stand up to China, has stated that she wants to make Taiwan’s largely US-equipped military into a “porcupine” that is both highly mobile and difficult to assault.
Three fighters, including an F-16, a French-made Mirage, and a Taiwanese Ching-kuo fighter, as well as an E-2 Hawkeye early-warning aircraft, landed in rural southern Pingtung county on a stretch of highway specifically constructed to be straight and level for speedy conversion from a road to a runway.
“Such splendid combat skills and rapid and real actions come from solid everyday training and also demonstrate the confidence of the Republic of China Air Force in defending its airspace,” Tsai wrote on Facebook, referencing Taiwan’s formal name.
Taiwan has five emergency highway runways across the island, which can be pressed into service in the event of a Chinese attack on its air force bases.
The majority of Taiwan’s air bases are on its flat west coast, facing China, and would probably come under almost immediate heavy missile and aerial bombardment in case of war.
Taiwan’s mountainous east coast is home to two other air bases, with hangers built deep into the rock to provide more solid protection.
Other exercises to practice repelling a Chinese invasion, protecting important infrastructure, and night operations are going place around Taiwan during the week-long Han Kuang drills, but the highway drills are the most striking.
According to the Taipei Times, military police in the Taipei area were also dispatched around midnight on Wednesday to response to a simulated assault on major telecommunications facilities in the city.
Taiwan’s air force has been dispatched on a near-daily basis to intercept Chinese aircraft that fly into the island’s air defense zone, particularly near the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the disputed South China Sea’s northern region.
Taiwan reported earlier this month that 19 Chinese military aircraft had infiltrated its southwestern airspace, including nuclear-capable bombers.
The Chinese jets were detected as they flew into the air defense identification zone (ADIZ), according to the Ministry of National Defense, which sent radio warnings to the crews.
The group included four H-6 bombers, 10 J-16 fighter jets and four Sukhoi SU-30 jets. A Y-8 transport and airborne early warning aircraft was also part of the incursion.
China has not commented on the flight, the largest incursion since June 15 when at least 28 Chinese air force aircraft – including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers – entered the ADIZ.
In July, neighbouring Japan warned that growing military tensions around Taiwan could threaten peace and stability in East Asia in its annual defence white paper.
This marked the first time that the Japanese report took up the issue of stability around the island.
“China has further intensified military activities around Taiwan including Chinese aircrafts’ entering the southwestern airspace of Taiwan,” the report said in its new section on Taiwan.
“In the meantime, the United States has demonstrated a clear stance of supporting Taiwan in military aspects, such as transits by US vessels through the Taiwan Strait and weapon sales.”
“Therefore, it is necessary that we pay close attention to the situation with a sense of crisis more than ever before,” it said.
Source: AL JAZEERA