Taiwan-made landing craft makes first appearance at annual drill
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, April 19 (CNA) The military conducted two drills on beaches in southern Taiwan Thursday, with one of them featuring a newly-deployed locally made landing craft for the first time in an exercise, officials said.
As part of the annual Han Kuang military exercises, the Navy assembled a joint force, which included marines and soldiers from the Air Force and the Army, to simulate a landing operation in Fangshan Township, Pintung County.
Over 6,000 servicemen took part in the drill, with the marines beginning the operation by clearing underwater obstacles with explosives.
After fighter jets and attack helicopters came in to provide cover from the air, ships and landing crafts closed in on the shore, dropping off military vehicles to take over the beach.
According to Capt. Chao Yuan-hsun of the Navy, the speedy Ho Yung utility landing craft, which was delivered to the Navy last October, was being deployed in a drill for the first time.
Meanwhile, in the second drill, over 700 troops, mainly reservists, conducted a defense operation against enemy combatants invading from the sea in Tainan.
While 14 CM-11 tanks were deployed in the drill that was open to the public, many people watching on the sidelines said they did not get the feel of a battlefield because no real shots were fired.
Responding to questions about the decision to play the sound of gunfire on speakers instead of using weapon, military official Yang Lin-chuan said the drill had achieved its purpose of testing the armed forces.
Similar questions were raised by lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties in the Legislature's Foreign and National Defense Committee in Taipei.
Deputy Defense Minister Andrew Yang responded by saying that firing missiles or letting off rounds is not the main purpose of the Han Kuang drills, which are more about examining military strengths and the country's defense needs.
(By Kuo Chu-chen, Chang Jung-hsiang, Chen Wei-ting and Kay Liu)
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