The military on Friday announced plans to refurbish the runway at the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島) airport.
A contractor had been found for the refurbishment project on Feb. 25 last year, and construction was supposed to begin on April 6 that year, a Ministry of National Defense budget report showed.
Tensions across the Taiwan Strait and weather concerns delayed the project until March 15 this year, and the refurbishment is expected to be completed by February next year, the report said.
Maintenance and flight management to and from Dongsha Airport is overseen by the air force’s Pingtung unit, with a Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport plane regularly flying out to the base to replenish supplies and a charter flight, operated by Uni Air (立榮航空), ferrying military personnel to and from the island.
Former air force deputy commander Chang Yen-ting (張延廷) said the airport facilitates the transfer of personnel from the Pratas Islands and Taiwan, as well as the replenishment of supplies, in times of peace and in the event of war.
Regarding China sending an uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) over the Pratas Islands recently, Chang said that the military should dispatch the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology’s Albatross UAV to the islands as a countermeasure.
He was referring to a Coast Guard Administration report that was presented at a legislative hearing on Thursday.
The report said China was likely conducting reconnaissance missions over the Pratas Islands, as its drones were recently spotted near there.
UAVs could also replenish supplies and conduct nighttime low-altitude supply drops, Chang said.
Additional reporting by CNA
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