MILITARY CONDUCTS PARACHUTE DRILL AT HUKOU ARMY BASE
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, May 17 (CNA) Military personnel conducted a parachute drill at an army base in the northern county of Hsinchu Thursday as part of the ongoing live-fire Han Kuang 23 military exercise.
In the drill, military units mounted a coordinated operation against a simulated Chinese airborne invasion at the Hukou army base in Hsinchu County, about 90 km south of Taipei.
The maneuver was the third in a four-day series of live-fire war games the military has conducted annually under the Han Kuang moniker since 1984. The war games are designed to test the military's combat readiness in the face of China's perennial military threat.
Chief of the General Staff Hou Shou-yeh presided over the parachute drill, in which a fleet of tanks, armored vehicles, attack helicopters and hundreds of troops were mobilized to wipe out Chinese paratroopers into the army base.
However, an airborne attack by fighters was canceled because of rain. The drill was also delayed by rain for an hour.
Vice Defense Minister Ko Cheng-heng, who was on hand to observe the proceedings, commended all participating military personnel for their hard work. "Thanks to your strenuous efforts, the drill proceeded smoothly and the results were satisfactory," he said.
Extensive anti-aircraft landing and airport defense drills were also staged in the southern county of Pingtung that day.
Eight heavily laden F-16 fighters strafed marked targets with rockets and bombs 10 km off the coast of Pingtung in a simulated amphibious attack by China.
Fast boats fired ship-to-ship missiles at floating targets in a test aimed at honing the armed forces' ability to "destroy the enemy before they can land on the beaches," a military officer said.
Super Cobra attack helicopters also launched rockets, while tanks and artillery lobbed a volley of shells to stop the mock enemy from landing.
Meanwhile, the armed forces practiced airport defensive strategies and measures at the Chiashan air base in the eastern county of Hualien, where huge tunnels dug into a mountain are designed to protect dozens of jets from intensive bombing should war break out in the Taiwan Strait.
Military personnel also demonstrated their engineering skills in repairing airstrips damaged by Chinese missile attacks in the Chishan air base maneuver. The drill took place amid heavy rain.
A day earlier, the military mobilized some 2,000 troops in different services to confront a simulated invasion from China in Suao township in the northeastern county of Yilan.
The drill simulated a scenario in which Chinese forces had crossed the Taiwan Strait and were ready to land. The air force, the navy, the army and the marines formed a defense network to repel the mock Chinese seaborne invasion along the isolated stretch of the northeastern coast.
As top military brass looked on, a lethal array of Hawk, Stinger, Chaparral and other missiles took out one invading vessel after another and neutralized the jet aircraft that were backing them up.
Mobile radar installations perched on a strategically located hill helped direct the strikes, but some of the missiles failed to explode or missed their intended targets.
Among others, a Hawk surface-to-air medium-range missile launched by the army landed in a cemetery without exploding. The missile was damaged but did not detonate and military personnel later retrieved the failed ordnance. One MGM-51 Shillelagh anti-tank guided missile fired by the marines lost control and fell into the sea.
Military commanders expressed their frustration over the missile failures during the exercise. They said a thorough review will be conducted after the exercise to determine what went wrong. Some military sources said the setback probably could be attributed to the fact that they were too old.
That same day, a similar combined forces drill was also held at Taichung Harbor in central Taiwan to test the military's combat readiness in response to a mock invasion by Chinese special forces.
More than 500 army, air force and marine personnel were mobilized for the combat drill, as well as dozens of aircraft and combat vehicles, missiles and artillery.
The troops honed various combat strategies and tactics in a presumed scenario in which Chinese airborne and special forces troops attempted to seize the Taichung port prior to an invasion.
The four-day live-fire Han Kuang 23 exercise began Tuesday with six air force jet fighters -- two each of the U.S.-built F-16, the French Mirage 2000-5 and the locally developed Indigenous Defense Fighter -- practicing emergency landings and takeoffs on a closed section of the Sun Yat-sen Freeway.
In the exercises, the F-16s were armed with advanced AIM-120 air-to-air missiles and the Mirages were equipped with MICA medium-range air-to-air missiles, while IDFs were unarmed. It marked the first time that the air force has publicly displayed its advanced AIM-120 missiles.
The freeway landing scenario was developed to prepare the military to deal with the possibility that local air bases would be knocked out by Chinese aerial bombardment.
(By Sofia Wu)
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