Air Force to start annual defense drills Monday

10/17/2021 09:18 PM
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An F-16 fighter jet takes off during the recent Han Kuang drills in Pingtung County. CNA file photo
An F-16 fighter jet takes off during the recent Han Kuang drills in Pingtung County. CNA file photo

Taipei, Oct. 17 (CNA) The Air Force will hold its annual Tien Lung drills from Monday until Oct. 29, with the bulk of the exercises taking place in Jiadong, Pingtung County, according to a military source.

The source told CNA that Air Force F-16Vs, Mirage-2000s, and Indigenous Defense Fighters (IDFs) will take part in the annual maneuvers, which will also include competitive testing of the Air Force's air-to-ground, air-to-sea, air-to-air, and land-based combat skills.

A gathering of fighter jets at Jiashan Air Force Base in Hualien County that normally takes place prior to the annual drills has been canceled this year due to the domestic COVID-19 situation in Taiwan.

Instead, Air Force units will fly directly to their designated firing and shooting areas, the source said.

The decision to host the bulk of the drill's exercises in Jiadong is designed to test the Air Force's ability to defend the southwest of Taiwan, in particular its air defense identification zone (ADIZ), the source said.

An ADIZ is airspace over land or water in which the identification, location, and control of civil aircraft is performed in the interest of national security. They may extend beyond a country's territory to give the country more time to respond to possibly hostile aircraft.

In recent years, hundreds of military sorties dispatched by Beijing have made incursions into Taiwan's ADIZ, with the Ministry of National Defense stating that some planes crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

In September, emergency landing and take-off drills were held for the first time on a public road -- the Jiadong section of Provincial Highway No. 1 in Pingtung -- as part of Taiwan's annual Han Kuang exercises.

The drills, which were part of a simulated attack on Taiwan, were designed to see if pilots and aircraft were capable of using public roads as improvised airstrips should enemy forces render regular runways unusable.

The source said the strategies and tactics used in this year's Tien Lung exercises were aimed at bolstering a defense of Taiwan launched primarily from the Jiadong area.

(By Matt Yu and Evelyn Kao) Enitem/ASG

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