A live-fire anti-landing drill, part of the nation’s annual Han Kuang military exercises, was held in outlying Penghu County yesterday, with military officials saying that all target ships were successfully destroyed in a test of the military’s ability to thwart a Chinese invasion.
Although the drill was carried out without any major problems, one of two Ching Chiang-class patrol vessels encountered a failure of its 76mm gun just before the weapon was to be fired, the navy said.
The problem was resolved immediately, but the shelling was canceled because the vessel had already passed through the designated shelling area, it said, adding that one Cheng Kung-class frigate experienced a similar problem, but it was fixed within 20 seconds and it did fire the gun.
Yesterday’s drill also featured the indigenous Thunderbolt-2000 multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS), seen in action publicly for the first time since it went into service five years ago.
Nine MLRS fired a total of 81 rockets from the coast against targets representing landing troops 20km away and all of the rockets hit their targets.
“The power of the Thunderbolt-2000 multiple-launch rocket system is really impressive,” President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said after the drill.
The nearly 50-minute drill, conducted at 6am, was inspected by Ma, who was accompanied by Chief of the General Staff Yen Ming (嚴明) and Deputy Minister of National Defense Andrew Yang (楊念祖).
The drill simulated groups of enemy ships attempting to land, with the military launching attacks from the air, land and sea.
Following the launch of the MLRS, two F-16s, two Indigenous Defense Fighters and two F-5Es carrying bombs attacked targets 5km off the coast.
Among the naval group were four Kuang Hua VI guided-missile vessels which fired 76 guns and AV2 chaff rockets against simualted enemy ships closing on the coast.
Other items in the nation’s arsenal used in the drill yesterday included AH-1W Supercobra attack helicopters and OH-58D reconnaissance helicopters, as well as M60A3 battle tanks and 155mm howitzers.
In all, 21 types of weapons were deployed and 7,682 military personnel participated, the ministry said.
“I am more confident in our military after seeing the drill,” Ma said after the conclusion of the exercise.
Noting China’s military power has been growing along with its economic rise, Ma added that facing the potential threat, the nation’s military has the capability to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait.
“The real key is not the severity of the external threat, or whether a foreign country will come to our aid at the appropriate moment, but whether our defense capabilities can serve as an effective deterrent,” he said.
“Today, we were watching a live-fire drill, but China’s cyberarmy tries to hack into our important Web sites 24 hours a day,” he added, calling on the military to take precautions to prevent serious damage from cyberattacks.
Ma also expressed concern over China’s attempts to lure military personnel to spy for it, urging the military to stay alert and make every effort to prevent espionage.
Additional reporting by CNA