Taiwan conducts mine drill amid increasing Chinese military activity

06/23/2020 09:51 PM
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Image taken from the Republic of China Navy
Image taken from the Republic of China Navy's Facebook page

Taipei, June 23 (CNA) The Navy held an exercise recently to hone its troops' skills in naval mine warfare amid increasing Chinese military activity around Taiwan, a military source confirmed Tuesday.

According to a Facebook post by the Navy on Friday, the 192nd Fleet, also known as the Navy Minesweeper Fleet, conducted drills on deploying, detecting and sweeping for sea mines in strategic waters around Taiwan.

At least one of the mines used in the drills was the WSM-II, indigenously developed by the state-owned National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST).

The annual exercise, aimed at improving the Navy's capabilities in detering hostile naval vessels from invading Taiwan, came at a time when the Chinese military is becoming more active around Taiwan.

According to Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND), Chinese military aircraft have flown into Taiwan's air defense identification zone eight times to date in June.

A high-ranking military officer told CNA on Tuesday that the MND has made the acquisition of new-generation smart mines and fast minelayers a priority, after confirming the drills.

This is in order to increase the Navy's ability to block Chinese troops from landing in Taiwan by sea during war, said the officer, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

A smart mine is capable of distinguishing and selecting its target through sophisticated sensors, posing a threat to enemies but keeping Taiwan's troops safe, he said.

On the other hand, a fast minelayer can shorten the time needed to deploy mines, effectively disrupting enemies' pace of attack and operation plans, he said.

The officer said Taiwan needs to develop more smart mines that fit the country's needs, especially in shallow water areas, as the existing mines are mostly designed against deepwater vessels but not shallow water ones, such as amphibious vehicles and hovercraft.

He also suggested that Taiwan should build more fast minelayers or equip all Navy ships under construction with build-in mine tracking to enable them to lay mines in times of emergency, as the present practice of commissioning fishing boats to do the job is unreliable.

(By Matt Yu and Emerson Lim)

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