The Ministry of National Defense and the Coast Guard Administration plan to deploy short-range anti-aircraft guns on Itu Aba (Tai-ping Island, 太平島) in the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) next month, a legislator said yesterday.
An LST-232 Tank Landing Ship and a CGA vessel will reportedly be used to transport a number of 40mm anti-aircraft guns and 120mm mortars to the island.
The 40mm guns have a range of 10,000m, while the 120mm mortars have a range of 6,100m, data from the ministry show.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said the deployment was in accordance with a resolution passed by the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.
After the defense systems are deployed, Lin said, he would again lead a group of legislators to visit the island, adding that the legislators could also inspect a live-fire exercise during the visit.
Legislators have asked the government to expand defense capabilities on the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島) and the Spratlys.
Lin said that after an indigenous ocean surveillance ship -enters -service next year, legislators would ask the government to deploy it to monitor the South China Sea.
The ministry said the military was helping the coast guard recruit artillery specialists and was also training coast guard personnel stationed on the islands for live-fire exercises.
Coast guard personnel have been stationed on the Pratas and Spratly islands since Taiwanese marines pulled out in 1999. Some legislators have called for the Marine Corps to return to the islands.
Lin and two legislators, as well as Deputy Minister of National Defense Andrew Yang (楊念祖), visited Itu Aba in May.