Taiwan showcases most advanced fighter jet after China drills

Taiwan showcases most advanced fighter jet after China drills

Taiwanese air force ground crew load US-made Harpoon AGM-84 anti-ship missiles in front of an F-16V fighter jet at Hualien Air Force base on August 17, 2022 [Sam Yeh/AFP]
Taipei has carried out its own drills to simulate defense against invasion by China, and unveiled the F-16V fighter jet.

Taiwan unveiled its most advanced fighter jet, the missile-equipped F-16V, during a rare nighttime demonstration in the wake of China’s unprecedented military drills around the island.

Chinese forces have staged days of air and sea military drills within the Taiwan Strait this month after visits to the self-governed island by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a congressional delegation.

Taipei has administered its own drills to simulate defense against invasion by China and on Wednesday air force personnel loaded an F-16V fighter with a US-made anti-ship missile in a “combat readiness” exercise at an airbase in eastern Hualien county.

Reporters were shown ground crews demonstrating how they rapidly upload weapons onto F-16s, including Boeing Co’s Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

Six F-16Vs later took off for night reconnaissance and training missions, including two armed with missiles, consistent with Taiwan’s air force.

“In the face of the threat from Chinese communist forces’ recent military exercises, we’ve stayed vigilant while establishing the concept of ‘battlefields everywhere and training anytime’ … to ensure national security,” the air force said during a statement.

Defense ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang said that although Taipei has condemned China’s actions in recent days, the situation presented a good opportunity for Taiwan’s military to improve its capabilities.
“We will take this opportunity to test all the training we normally do to improve our current methods and increase our effectiveness in combat,” he said.

“The ROC military has the confidence, ability and determination to safeguard the security of the ROC,” added Sun Yat-sen, using Taiwan’s official name.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said the autonomous island was not intended to provoke or escalate tensions with Beijing.

Taiwan is under constant threat of invasion from China. China claims it will one day occupy the democratically governed island as part of its territory, forcibly if necessary.

Taipei accuses Beijing of using Pelosi’s business trip as an excuse to begin training to enable rehearsals for the invasion.Taiwan has been refurbishing its aging fighter planes in recent years. Beijing’s military actions have heightened concern, and the air force is under constant pressure from frequent Chinese incursions into Taiwan’s air defense areas.

November, the island deployed its first squadron of US-made F-16Vs. This is an upgraded and much more sophisticated version of other F-16 fighters dating back to the 1990s. The F-16V deal was approved by then-U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, which was at odds with China on various issues, but his successor, Joe Biden, maintained similar support for Taipei. At Hualien Air Force Base, where the hangar is cut into the hillside, two pilots at a time can be on duty in flight suits and take off in less than six minutes.

Credit/Source : ALJAZEERA

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