President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said he was “not happy” with the results of a major air defense missile test at a testing base in Pingtung County that coincided with the departure of Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) for Washington on a state visit.
In the first major exercise open to the media at the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology’s (CSIST) Jiupeng missile testing base in Pingtung County since 2002, three services — the air force, army and marine corps — fired 11 types of surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles, including the indigenous-made Tien Kung II “Sky Bow” (TK-II) and US-made AIM-7 “Sparrow.”
A total of 19 missiles were fired during the air defense drill.
Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times
Months in the making and involving the participation of 576 members of the armed forces and the CSIST, the exercise showcased a number of platforms, including the F-16A/B, Mirage 2000, F-5E/F, Ching Kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter and AH-1W Cobra attack helicopter, as well as various ground-based launchers.
However, despite the impressive array, six of the 19 missiles encountered technical problems, with one Sparrow climbing about 200m into the air before radically changing direction and plummeting into the South China Sea.
Of the six malfunctions, four involved missiles coming close to their target, but failing to detonate, while the other two missed their target altogether.
Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times
The TK-II, which has a range of 200km, performed handsomely, the military said, reportedly destroying its target at a distance of 100km. At its narrowest point, the Taiwan Strait is about 130km wide.
Air force Political Warfare Department director Pan Kung-hsiao (潘恭孝) told reporters at a debriefing that the military and CSIST were investigating the causes of the malfunctions. Early reports pointed to problems with tracking mechanisms and target acquisition.
At a press conference following the exercise, Ma, who had watched from a building overlooking the sprawling testing base located deep in the mountains, appeared unimpressed.
“I’m not satisfied with the results,” he said. “I hope the military will determine the reasons and improve its training.”
The Ministry of National Defense said an overall success rate of about 70 percent in such exercises was acceptable.
With 13 hits and six misses, yesterday’s rate was slightly short of its target, at 68.4 percent.
The exercise, which came on the heels of China’s unveiling of its J-20 stealth fighter, has given rise to speculation that its timing was no accident and constituted a response to Beijing.
Asked by reporters if the exercise was indeed meant as a countermove against Beijing’s military demonstrations or Hu’s trip to the US, Ma said the drill had “nothing whatsoever” to do with China and was intended to increase public awareness on defense issues.
Ministry officials told the Taipei Times that the timing of the exercise — the first of two to be held this year in the context of the celebrations surrounding the 100th anniversary of the Republic of China — had been set prior to the announcement of Hu’s visit to Washington or the Jan. 11 test flight of Beijing’s J-20.
The date of the second exercise has yet to be announced.
REACHING OUT: President Tsai expressed condolences to the deceased man’s family and wished a speedy recovery to those who were wounded in the shooting The Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) on Monday called on the US to label organizations associated with the suspect in the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church shooting as domestic terrorists, following accusations that he was a member of a group backing unification with ties to the Chinese government. David Wenwei Chou (周文偉), 68, was arrested on Sunday and is being held in lieu of US$1 million bail at the Orange County Intake Release Center over a mass shooting at the California church that left one dead and five wounded. Local police suspect the shooting was politically motivated after they found notes in
NO CONSENSUS YET: Local governments and the CECC have agreed to change the ‘3+4’ self-isolation policy, but are still mulling what to replace it with The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) and local governments have agreed to ease restrictions on close contacts of COVID-19 cases, although the details are still being discussed, the center said yesterday. The discussions follow Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Saturday approving a proposal to shorten the “3+4” policy — three days of home isolation followed by four days of self-disease prevention — for close contacts who have received booster doses. “We did not reach a consensus on how to revise the current restrictions, but we all agreed that the administrative burden must be reduced and the intensity of restrictions must be eased,
LIVING WITH COVID-19: Close contacts with a booster shot would no longer follow the ‘3+4’ policy, instead practicing ‘0+7,’ or self-disease prevention for seven days Close contacts of COVID-19 cases who have received a booster shot no longer need to isolate at home, but should practice seven days of “self-disease prevention,” effective today, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that starting at 12am today, close contacts — people living in the same household — of those confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 are exempt from home isolation if they have received a booster shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. Data from other countries show that people who have received a booster shot are
‘TOO RESTRICTIVE’: Ending US sales of weapons that do not fall under the category of ‘asymmetric’ would hamper Taiwan’s defense against China, two business groups said Taiwan’s weapons procurement decisions are made based on its needs, and are not influenced by individual arms dealers, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday after two US business groups questioned a US official’s comment on arms sales to Taiwan. US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Regional Security Mira Resnick told the business groups via video link on Saturday that Washington would adjust the types of weapons sold to Taiwan and end “most arms sales to Taiwan that do not fall under the category of ‘asymmetric.’” The American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan and the US-Taiwan Business Council on Monday