Delayed Han Kuang emergency jet landing drill planned for September: source

08/02/2021 08:20 PM
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An F-16 fighter jet. CNA file photo courtesy of a member of the public
An F-16 fighter jet. CNA file photo courtesy of a member of the public

Taipei, Aug. 2 (CNA) The postponed live-fire component of this year's Han Kuang military exercises is scheduled to take place in September and will feature fighter jets conducting emergency takeoffs and landings on public highways, a military source said Monday.

The Han Kuang exercises, Taiwan's major war games, have been held annually since 1984, in the form of live-fire drills and computerized war games, to test the nation's combat readiness in the face of a possible Chinese invasion.

This year's tabletop drills were held from April 23-30. The live-fire exercises, meanwhile, were scheduled to start July 12 and run for five days.

However, due to a domestic COVID-19 outbreak that started in mid May, the military in mid June decided to postpone the live-fire part of the drill.

A military source told CNA Monday that the defense ministry has set the provisional date for the live-fire drills as Sept. 13-17.

The scale of the drills, whether they will open to media coverage, and the exact focus of the exercises will be decided at a later date depending on the pandemic situation at that time, the source added.

One element that will go ahead is a series of emergency takeoffs and landings of fighter jets on the Jiadong section of Provincial Highway No. 1 in Pingtung County, the source said.

It will be the first time such a drill has been conducted on the Jiadong section, one of five sections built in Taiwan to accommodate emergency military jet landings and takeoffs in the event of a war.

The drill will simulate a scenario in which Taiwan's military and civilian airports and airstrips are seriously damaged by enemy fire, and jets have to land on the highway.

The other emergency landing strips are on Freeway No. 1 -- the Madou and Rende sections in Tainan County, Huatan section in Changhua County and Minxiong section in Chiayi County.

Exercises have previously been conducted on these four sections, whereas drills planned for the Jiadong section in 2011 were cancelled due to poor weather conditions.

(By Matt Yu and Joseph Yeh)

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