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DEFENSE/Taiwan test fires Patriot missiles in joint exercise with U.S.: Source

09/29/2023 07:06 PM
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An Air Force C-130H Hercules lands at Taitung Airport in southeastern Taiwan on July 18, 2023 in a rehearsal of the annual Han Kuang military drills held later that month. CNA file photo
An Air Force C-130H Hercules lands at Taitung Airport in southeastern Taiwan on July 18, 2023 in a rehearsal of the annual Han Kuang military drills held later that month. CNA file photo

Taipei, Sept. 29 (CNA) Taiwan's military test fired Patriot missiles as part of a joint training exercise with the United States conducted near the Pacific island country of Palau in August, a source familiar with the matter told CNA Friday.

The source, who asked to remain anonymous, said Taiwan sent military personnel to Palau on board an Air Force C-130H Hercules and the exercise was completed in August, without elaborating.

The Patriot missiles used by Taiwan during the reported recent joint training exercise with the U.S. near Palau are believed to have been the PAC-2 system, Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a research fellow at Taiwan's Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR) said.

The missiles are unlikely to be the PAC-3 system, Su told CNA, after local media reports on Thursday cited sources as saying Taiwan sent soldiers to train using the latest Patriot system in Palau under U.S. observation in August.

According to Su, the U.S. deployed its 38th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, which is based in Japan, to Palau to conduct live-fire exercises with the MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air system and stinger missiles in July.

Judging from the photos seen in various U.S. military news reports, the Patriot missiles used in the drill were the PAC-2 MIM-104D/E system, he said.

Reports of Taiwan's participation in the joint drill in Palau have not been confirmed by the Ministry of National Defense.

While Taiwan and the U.S. continue to bolster military exchanges, Su said a joint training exercise between the two sides is likely to have happened, adding that various reports show that Japan's military also participated in the exercises in Palau.

Shu Hsiao-huang (舒孝煌), an INDSR analyst, said that although Taiwan already conducts missile tests at its Jioupeng military base, some information must be made public during missile testing, including airspace warnings, because the surrounding sea and air space are often busy with commercial traffic, which allows observers to infer the type of missiles being tested.

In addition, the Chinese military can deploy ships and aircraft nearby to gather data, a concern for both Taiwan and the U.S., Shu added, as he explained the reasons testing missiles in Palau is preferable.

Furthermore, the U.S. military conducting exercises with other countries also helps deter the Chinese military from breaking through the second island chain in the event of a conflict, Shu said.

(By Matt Yu and Ko Lin)

Enditem/AW

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