Taiwan displayed how its fighter jets and early warning aircraft could land, refuel and take off on a closed motorway on Tuesday, in a scenario simulating a Chinese attack that wiped out the island’s air force bases.
The exercise — the first of its kind since 2011 — was a reminder of lingering Chinese hostilities towards the island despite warming ties between the two rivals.
“The scenario of the drill was that the air bases were severely damaged after intensive bombings of ballistic and cruise missiles by the Chinese communists,” Major General Hung Kuang-min told reporters.
Three jet fighters — an F-16, a Mirage 2000-5 and a home-made Indigenous Defence Fighter — practiced landing on a freeway in southern Chiayi County, where they refueled and loaded missiles and other ammunition before taking off again.
Tuesday’s manoeuvres were the first to feature an E-2K, a US-made early warning aircraft.
Around 1,200 soldiers were mobilized for the drill, part of war games codenamed “Han Kuang 30” which are designed to evaluate the island’s ability to defend itself against a Chinese invasion.
Ties between Taiwan and China have improved markedly since 2008 after Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang party came to power on a platform of increasing tourism and trade links. He was re-elected in 2012.
But China still refuses to renounce its use of force against Taiwan should the island declare formal independence.
Taiwan and China split in 1949 at the end of a civil war in 1949.