The military will send personnel to the US to take part in a joint air transport and evacuation training exercise next year, according to the Ministry of National Defense’s budget report for next year.
As part of its efforts to promote international defense technology exchanges, the ministry will also send staff members to attend a symposium in a European country on the development of missile defense systems, the report said.
In a quite uncharacteristic move, the report revealed that the air force’s C-130 transport planes will fly to Singapore’s Changi Airport as part of its long-haul aviation training program. Because of the absence of diplomatic ties, Singapore has traditionally kept quiet on its military cooperation programs with Taiwan.
The ministry has referred its budget plan to the legislature for approval in the new legislative session, which opens today.
According to the budget report, the air force will send aviation crew members to the US to participate in aerial refueling and medical transport and evacuation training drills.
The air force’s transport fleet personnel need to receive in-flight refueling training because Taiwan does not have an aerial tanker fleet.
Military sources said the joint refueling training exercise over US skies will mark progress in bilateral military exchanges, adding that it symbolizes the strengthening of an informal Taiwan-US military alliance.
Through such an alliance, Taiwan’s transport planes can extend their flight range during emergencies with the help of US aerial tankers, the sources said.
In the coming year, the air force will also send crew members to take part in a joint aerial search-and-rescue training exercise. In the past, it also sent personnel to Southeast Asian countries to receive long-distance aviation training.
The training destination will be Guam, the report said.
To reinforce Taiwan’s air and missile defense capabilities, the ministry will send officers to the US to receive training in new air and missile defense strategies and flight command and control technologies, it said.
In the past, Singapore tended to express concern or lodge protests whenever its military cooperation or exchange programs with Taiwan were leaked to or reported by news media.
The report revealed for the first time the details of a transport plane training cooperation plan. Under the program, the air force’s C-130 transport planes will fly to Changi Airport for long-haul aviation training. On their return flights, the C-130s will help transport military supplies and goods needed by Singapore’s “Starlight” military personnel who are receiving training in Taiwan.
For years, Singapore has maintained a military cooperative project, code-named “Starlight,” with Taiwan, under which Taiwan’s military helps train Singaporean troops.
Military sources said Taiwan-Singapore military cooperation has been proceeding smoothly. Many Taiwanese aviation fans have often spotted the Singaporean Air Force’s C-130s delivering troops or military supplies to Taiwan.
Local military experts said it was not necessary to continue conducting such bilateral cooperative projects behind the scenes.