Wed, May 15, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Air force ready for worst-case scenario

DEFENSE Maneuvers over Hualien were based on the premise that all the military airports in western Taiwan had been paralyzed by ballistic missile strikes

AFP , TAIPEI

Taiwan's air force had held a drill to practise retaliatory strikes in case of an attack by China, it was reported yesterday.

The maneuvers over Hualien were based on the premise that all the military airports in western Taiwan had been paralyzed by intensive Chinese ballistic missile strikes, the Liberty Times said.

The drill called for surviving fighters to regroup and attack from Hualien's Chiashan air base -- a huge tunnel complex designed to shelter dozens of military aircraft.

The drill was part of the "Hankuang 18" (漢光, Han Glory) exercise, the year's biggest exercise, which starts this month.

On Friday Taiwan's army destroyed four out of four targets during missile testing at the Chiupeng missile base in the south of Taiwan.

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who witnessed the missile drills, repeated Taipei's official line that Taiwan needs to be able to defend itself and sustain a limited deterrent capability.

But he also called on Beijing to reopen dialogue which it terminated in 1995.

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