Taiwan monitoring China's first aircraft carrier drill
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, Dec. 26 (CNA) Taiwan has been monitoring China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which was sailing in a southwesterly direction southeast of the Taiwan-held Dongsha islands in the South China Sea as of 2 p.m. Monday, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said that day.
The ministry said it will continue to keep a close watch on its movements, but declined to reveal details about reconnaissance missions carried out by the Air Force.
The Dongsha islands are located 450 kilometers southwest of Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan.
According to local media reports, the Air Force scrambled two F-16 jets and two RF-16 reconnaissance aircraft from Hualien air base in eastern Taiwan Monday to track the Liaoning and its escort vessels.
The RF-16 took photos of the formation, the ministry said in a statement.
It said the public should rest assured that the military is staying on top of and closely monitoring the movements of the fleet.
According to Chinese media reports, the Liaoning and its battle group is bound for the Western Pacific, where it will take part in an open-sea exercise for the first time.
The aircraft carrier and its escorts are expected to conduct the exercises outside the first island chain, of which Taiwan and the Japanese islands form a part.
(By Claudia Liu and Evelyn Kao)
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