Taiwan military drilling with live fire for first time in 13 years
Taiwan is conducting annual military maneuvers in which it is also drilling with live fire for the first time in 13 years, amid tensions with mainland China.
Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen was expected on Thursday to observe the 36th edition of the five-day annual Han Kuang war games, which will end on Friday and which are based on the scenario of an invasion by the Chinese military.
Taiwanese military sources told Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) that a day earlier, a heavyweight Surface and Underwater Target (SUT) torpedo fired from a Chien Lung-lass diesel-electric submarine had “successfully” hit its target, a decommissioned Knox-class frigate.
The last time a submarine from the naval forces of the self-ruled island fired a live torpedo during the annual war games was in May 2007, the sources said.
The major military exercises, involving all branches of the military and reserve forces, are said to be aimed at testing Taiwan’s combat readiness in the event of a potential attack by China.
The CNA, citing the military, said that during the exercises on Wednesday, two Chinese reconnaissance vessels had been seen off the east coast of Taiwan. A Taiwanese warship was dispatched “to monitor and deter” the two vessels, which “eventually sailed away,” it added.
Taiwan’s air force also scrambled its warplanes late Tuesday to intercept a simulated attack by Chinese fighter jets.
On Thursday, Taiwanese troopers, backed by fighter jets and warships, also fought off simulated coastal assaults from China, trying to repel a mock enemy attempt to land on a beach in the central city of Taichung.
The war games reportedly involve some 8,000 service members.
The second stage of the annual drills, which comprise computerized exercises as well, is scheduled to be held on September 14 to 18.
China has sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan, and under a policy known as “One China,” almost all world countries recognize that sovereignty.