Han Kuang exercises begin with Air Force, Navy, biological warfare drills

09/13/2021 04:12 PM
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Two Mirage 2000s pictured during Monday
Two Mirage 2000s pictured during Monday's exercises. Photo courtesy of a private contributor

Taipei, Sept. 13 (CNA) The live-fire component of this year's annual Han Kuang military exercises, Taiwan's major war games involving all military branches, kicked off Monday morning and will run until late Friday to test the armed forces' capability to fend off a Chinese invasion.

The 37th edition of the annual event officially began after the Defense Ministry's Joint Operations Command Center, better known as Hengshan Command Center, announced the initiation of the five-day live-fire drills, which had been postponed from July 12 due to a domestic COVID-19 outbreak.

Monday's drills were focused on testing the military's preservation and maintenance of combat capabilities in the event of a full-scale Chinese invasion.

As part of the drills, Air Force fighter jets that were originally deployed in the western part of the island were dispatched to Hualien Air Base in the east in a simulation of a Chinese invasion, a military source told CNA.

Photo courtesy of a private contributor
Photo courtesy of a private contributor

Military C-130 transport aircraft also sent military personnel responsible for fighter jet maintenance, together with related equipment and supplies to designated locations in eastern Taiwan early in the day, the source said.

Another source told CNA that the fighters that flew to eastern Taiwan included F-16Vs and Mirage 2000s, while the nation's IDF jets were dispatched to air bases in the western part of the island.

Meanwhile, all of the nation's major naval vessels also left their home ports and sailed to designated locations off the island's coast in preparation for confronting enemy forces.

Their early departure from the ports is meant to serve as a preventive measure in case they will not be able to do so if the ports are destroyed by enemy bombardment, a military source added.

A biological agent containment exercise was also held in southern Tainan City on Monday, in response to a mock assault where troops were attacked by bioweapons.

Soldiers were promptly sent to nearby hospitals to be treated by civilian doctors. The military also rehearsed its procedures for the decontamination of vehicles and equipment during the Tainan drill.

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

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

Due to a domestic COVID-19 outbreak that started in mid-May, however, the military in mid-June decided to postpone the live-fire part of the drill and rescheduled it to be held from Sept. 13 to 17.

The scope of the annual drills has also been scaled down to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease.

(By Matt Yu, Lee Shien-feng, Yang Sz-ruei and Joseph Yeh)

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