The Coast Guard Administration is to hold two live-fire exercises to test an indigenous anti-armor rocket on the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島) in the South China Sea next month.
The exercises are scheduled from 8am to 9am on Sept. 5 and 12, the agency said in a notice to operators of aircraft and ships in the area.
The exercises would affect an area of 8 nautical miles (14.8km) around the launch site and the rockets would reach heights of up to 3.7km, it said.
Photo: Lo Tien-pin, Taipei Times
The notice did not specify what kind of weapons would be tested, saying only that the exercises are part of annual drills.
However, the Central News Agency reported that locally developed Kestrel anti-armor rockets would be launched on both dates.
The rocket, developed by the military’s top research unit, the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, is an individual shoulder-launched weapon for anti-armor and concrete penetration.
With an effective range of 400m, the launcher is made from fiber-reinforced plastic and features an optical sight and a mounting for a night vision scope.
The military previously said that it would soon deploy 292 Kestrel rockets at two Taiwan-controlled sites in the South China Sea in reaction to increasing Chinese presence in the region.
The Pratas Islands, which are almost 450km southwest of Kaohsiung, are one of two territories controlled by Taiwan in the South China Sea. The other is Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島), which is about 1,500km southwest of Kaohsiung. Marine Corps-trained coast guard personnel are stationed on both territories.
However, the Ministry of National Defense last year said that it would temporarily post military personnel on the Pratas Islands in reaction to reports that the Chinese military was planning to conduct drills in the area.
The ministry did not elaborate on the number of troops it would deploy, their planned arrival date or how long they would stay.
Taiwan, Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam all claim part of the South China Sea as their territory.
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