Wed, Jul 05, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Military confirms Penghu joint exercise

‘FAKE REPORTS’:The Ministry of National Defense rejected reports that the ‘Liaoning’ aircraft carrier group conducted special training operations while in the Taiwan Strait

By Lo Tien-pin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA

Chief of General Staff Lee Hsi-ming yesterday inspects naval exercises in waters off Penghu.

Photo: courtesy of the Ministry of National Defense

The navy and air force conducted a joint exercise in the waters off Penghu overseen by a high-ranking military officer as China’s aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, and its attendant ships sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Saturday, sources said yesterday.

The Liaoning group entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone at 4pm on Saturday and departed it at 9:30pm the next day, the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement yesterday.

The military scrambled jets and naval vessels to closely monitor the Chinese battle group, it said.

The ministry confirmed there was an exercise off Penghu yesterday supervised by Admiral Lee Hsi-ming (李喜明), chief of the general staff.

The exercise involved seven ships, navy S-70C marine patrol helicopters and air force P-3C aircraft, the ministry said.

Lee was quoted in the statement as saying that military personnel should fulfill their duty to be on station to maintain national security, adding: “There are no vacation days when on duty.”

Lee inspected the troops in Penghu prior to the exercise, watching a simulation of jets being scrambled, the statement said.

After the exercise, Lee inspected the details of the scramble at an air force base in Chiayi.

Lee also inspected missile units in Penghu and said that they were “well-prepared.”

Ttroops should raise questions and point out equipment failures or required upgrades, which would help the military with research and development, Lee added.

He called on troops in Chiayi to “be prepared for battle at all times,” stressing the importance of “staying on duty and being ready for immediate action.”

All military personnel should strive to become better while maintaining normal training to better shoulder the duties of protecting the nation’s airspace, he said.

Meanwhile, the ministry rejected reports that a Chinese naval formation headed by the Liaoning conducted special training operations while in the Taiwan Strait over the weekend.

“Nothing unusual happened on the sea or in the air at that time,” the ministry said, dismissing reports of takeoffs and landings of fighter jets from the Liaoning while the formation sailed through Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.

The reports are “all untrue and total speculation,” it said.

The ministry said that any report of military activity should be made based on the information it releases to avoid concerning the public.

Reports of activity in the aircraft carrier group arose mainly from a video posted on Monday on a Chinese Weibo account entitled: “I have an appointment with the South China Sea.”

The video showed fighters repeatedly taking off and landing on the Liaoning while it was supposedly sailing southward in the Taiwan Strait on its way to Hong Kong.

The video also showed images taken from the air of the entire formation, comprised of the Liaoning, destroyers Jinan and Yinchuan, frigate Yantai and a squadron of J-15 jets, as well as helicopters.

The battle group set off from Qingdao Military Port in Shandong Province on June 25 for a training operation. It is sailing to Hong Kong to attend celebrations this month marking the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China.

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