The quiet northeastern county of Ilan, home to quite a few government leaders, yesterday was rocked for half a day with the sights and sounds of rockets and missiles fired against surface targets in a large-scale military exercise.
It is the first time Ilan has seen a large-scale live-fire drill, part of the Hankuang No. 19 joint-services exercise.
In yesterday's drill, the military fired hundreds of rockets, artillery shells and missiles against surface targets.
The weapons that the military put to use in the drill included over two anti-ship missiles that were developed by the Chun Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST), defense sources said.
The anti-ship missiles, identified by some military officials as the Hsiung Feng-II models, were fired from a mountain above a local military port toward two target ships positioned quite a distance from the shore.
The two missiles were fired from mobile launchers, a land-based variant of the the Hsiung Feng-II missile for launch from warships.
There are a total of six land-based Hsiung Feng-II bases deployed across the country. Only one of them is located in eastern Taiwan. It sits in Hualien, rather than in Ilan.
To improve the nation's ability to defend itself from an eastern assault, the military has looked into deploying new types of weapons in the region.
One of the new weapons that the military has been considering deploying on positions located near the east coast is this retooled model of the Hsiung Feng-II missile system.
The CSIST has produced six Hsiung Feng-II systems and has been testing them at various times and in various places, include yesterday's live-fire drill.
The military initially planned to test-fire Harpoon anti-ship missile during the live-fire drill, but might have cancelled it after the exercise was downgraded because the military has been called into action to combat SARS infections in northern Taiwan.