Taipei has held its own exercises to simulate defense against an invasion by China and has unveiled the F-16V fighter jet.
After China conducted unprecedented military maneuvers near the island, Taiwan displayed its most sophisticated fighter jet, the F-16V, equipped with missiles, in a rare exhibition that took place overnight.
Chinese forces have held air and sea military exercises in the Taiwan Strait for days this month, following visits to the self-ruled island by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a congressional delegation.
Taipei has held its exercises to simulate defense against China’s invasion. On Wednesday, air force personnel loaded an F-16V fighter with a US-made anti-ship missile in a “combat readiness” exercise in an air base in eastern Hualien County.
Reporters watched ground crews demonstrate how weapons are quickly loaded onto F-16s, including Boeing’s Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
According to the Taiwanese air force, later on, there was a launch of six F-16Vs for night reconnaissance and training flights. Two of these F-16Vs were reportedly equipped with missiles.
“Faced with the threat of recent military exercises by Chinese communist forces, we have remained vigilant while establishing the concept of ‘battlefields everywhere and training anytime’… to ensure national security,” the air force said in a statement.
Defense Ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang said that while Taipei condemned China’s actions recently, the situation was an excellent opportunity for Taiwanese forces to hone their skills.
“We will take this opportunity to test all the training we normally do, improve our current methods, and raise our combat effectiveness,” he said.
“The R.O.C. forces have the confidence, capability, and determination to uphold the security of the R.O.C.,” Sun added, using the formal name of Taiwan.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has said the self-ruled island is not seeking to provoke or escalate tensions with Beijing.
China views democratic Taiwan as part of its territory and plans to take it over by force if necessary eventually. Taiwan is under threat that china will invade eventually.
Taipei has accused Beijing of using Pelosi’s trip – the highest-ranking U.S. elected official to visit the island in decades – as an excuse to run drills to rehearse an invasion.
Taiwan has modernized its aging fighter fleet in recent years, fearing military action from Beijing and constant pressure on its air forces from frequent Chinese incursions into the island’s air defense zone.
In November, the island fielded its first squadron of American-made F-16Vs, an upgraded and much more sophisticated version of its other F-16 fighters dating back to the 1990s.
Then-US President Donald Trump’s administration approved the F-16V deal as he feuded with China over a series of issues, but his successor Joe Biden has maintained similar support for Taipei.
Hualien Air Base, which has hangars cut into the side of a mountain, has two pilots on duty at all times with their flight suits at the ready and able to be airborne in six minutes.