Thu, Jul 15, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Air force conducts second freeway fly-by

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft drops its landing gear over the Sun Yat-sen Freeway's "Jenteh Runway" during a practice run for the annual Han Kuang military exercise.Aircraft will land on the airfield for the first time this year.

PHOTO: CHANG CHUNG-YI, TAIPEI TIMES

Two IDF and two Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft yesterday made another fly-by over the Sun Yat-sen Freeway's "Jenteh Runway" in a practice run for the annual Han Kuang, or "Han Glory," military exercise, which will begin on July 21.

The air force sent the fighters to make the fly-by around 6am yesterday.

Since the area was not restricted during the exercise, many residents woke up early to try to find a good spot from which to watch the aircraft.

The IDFs made two fly-bys, while the Mirages made five. Air force officials said that they were completely satisfied with the practice run.

According to an air force officer who wished to remain anonymous, the four fighters flew by at the height of 180m, from the north to the south. But the aircraft did not touch down during the rehearsal.

He said that the Mirages are the bigger than Taiwan's other primary types of fighter aircraft, the IDFs and the F-16s. As a result, the Mirages were selected to carry out the mission during the military exercise.

"If the Mirages can make it, so can all the other fighters," he said.

In the meantime, pilots will have to land their fighters on the freeway without navigation systems during the exercise, since there is no navigation system at the Jenteh Runway.

"It will not be an easy task, since it takes a lot of skill and courage. But we will do it anyway," the officer said.

The Air Force General Headquarters yesterday said that its plan to land Mirage fighters on the Sun Yat-sen Freeway has nothing to do with recent media reports about evacuating President Chen Shui-bian [陳水扁] in the event that China attempted to carry out a "decapitation strike" against Taiwan's government.

"The allegation that the [the Chinese military] could attempt to kidnap or assassinate our government leaders first surfaced last month, but our plan to land the aircraft on the five runways on the freeway was made last year. These two issues are not related to each other at all," said Lieutenant General Liu Yi-tien (劉翼天), director of the warfare department of the Air Force General Headquarters.

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