Taiwanese Jets Land on Highway in Pineapple Field Amid Annual Drills on Defence Against China
The authorities on the island, claimed by China as a part of its territory but which maintains de-facto independence, have intensified contacts with the US in recent years, seeking to buy military equipment and weapons despite objections from Beijing.
Several Taiwanese Air Force jet fighters landed on a highway running through pineapple fields in the south-western part of the island. The aircraft were fine â€“ they were practicing landing on makeshift runways as part of annual drills that the island's military has been carrying out to prepare for an allegedly possible attack from China, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan.
All three fighter jets participating in the exercise â€“ an American F-16, French-made Mirage and Taiwan-manufactured Ching-kuo Defence Fighter â€“ successfully landed on one of five highways designed specifically to be straight and flat to serve as a reserve runway in the event the main airbases are destroyed by an adversary. Taiwan's head Tsai Ing-wen praised the skills of the pilots.
Most of the island's air bases are located on the west coast, close to China, and have little geographic protection. However, Taiwan also has two bases located in the mountains on the east of the island.
China considers Taiwan a part of its territory and has reacted harshly to its muscle-flexing, as well as recent talks of buying advanced weapons from the US. The island's head Tsai Ing-wen was elected on the promises of standing up against China's claims as well as modernising the island's military.
Apart from negotiating a potential weapons sale, the US also routinely sends its warships to the region, including to the Taiwan Strait, which separates China from the island. Beijing has strongly condemned such missions carried out under the pretext of freedom of navigation operations, accusing Washington of violating its territorial waters.
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