The military conducted two drills on beaches in southern Taiwan yesterday, with one of them featuring a newly deployed locally made landing craft for the first time in an exercise, officials said.
As part of the annual Han Kuang military exercises, the navy assembled a joint force, which included marines and soldiers from the air force and the army, to simulate an amphibious landing in Fangshan Township (枋山), Pintung County.
More than 6,000 troops took part in the drill, with the marines beginning the operation by clearing underwater obstacles with explosives. After fighter jets and attack helicopters came in to provide cover from the air, ships and landing crafts closed in on the shore, dropping off military vehicles to take over the beach.
According to Captain Chao Yuan-hsun (趙元勳), the speedy Ho Yung (合永) utility landing craft, which was delivered to the navy in October, was being deployed in a drill for the first time. Meanwhile, in a second drill, more than 700 troops, mainly reservists, conducted defensive maneuvers against simulated enemy combatants making an amphibious landing off Greater Tainan.
While 14 CM-11 tanks were deployed in the drill, which was open to the public, many people watching on the sidelines said they did not get the feel of a battlefield because no real shots were fired.
Asked about the decision to play the sound of gunfire on speakers instead of using weapons, military spokesperson Yang Lin-chuan (楊林川) said the drill had achieved its purpose of testing the armed forces.
The issue was also raised by lawmakers from both governing and opposition parties in the Legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee in Taipei yesterday.
Deputy Minister of National Defense Andrew Yang (楊念祖) said that firing missiles or bullets is not the main purpose of the Han Kuang drills, which are more about examining military strengths and the country’s defense needs.
Separately, at the Hsinchu Air Force Base in northern Taiwan yesterday, an exercise to test the nation’s anti-paratroop combat readiness was conducted as part of the Han Kuang military exercises.
More than 200 paratroopers participated in the drill held at the Hsinchu Air Force Base — the base in Taiwan proper that is closest to China — to act as opposing Chinese forces, the Ministry of National Defense said.
The drill also incorporated AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters, C-130 transport planes and dozens of advanced weapons to demonstrate Taiwan’s ability to fend off airborne invaders.
The drill saw more than 1,500 troops mobilized, mainly from the army and the air force, the ministry said.