President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is tomorrow to board a naval vessel to observe a joint exercise that is part of the annual five-day live-fire phase of the Han Kuang military exercises, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday.
The drill is expected to feature more than 20 military vessels and several air force fighter jets off the coast near Yilan County’s Suao (蘇澳) naval base, and would test the armed forces’ joint defense capabilities against a Chinese invasion from the sea, the ministry said.
It would be the first time that Tsai inspects a Han Kuang drill from a warship since taking office in May 2016.
Photo: Ritchie B. Tongo, EPA-EFE
In 2018, she boarded a warship to watch a separate offshore combat readiness exercise from the Kidd-class destroyer Keelung at the Suao naval base.
Tomorrow’s drill would be part of the live-fire component of this year’s annual Han Kuang military exercises, Taiwan’s largest war games involving all military branches. The 38th edition of the exercises aims to test Taiwan’s combat readiness in the event of a Chinese invasion. They start today and run through Friday.
The exercises would officially begin after the Joint Operations Command Center, better known as the Hengshan Command Center, announces the initiation of the live-fire drills early today, the ministry said.
Today’s drills would be focused on testing the military’s preservation and maintenance of combat capabilities in the event of a full-scale Chinese invasion, the ministry said.
As part of the drills, air force fighter jets deployed in the west of Taiwan’s main island would be dispatched to Hualien Air Force Base, it said.
Military C-130 transport aircraft would also be used to take military personnel responsible for fighter jet maintenance, together with equipment and supplies, to designated locations in eastern Taiwan early in the day, it said.
Another highlight of this year’s Han Kuang exercises is that reservists who have undergone longer and more intense training would participate in the drill for the first time, the ministry said.
A new reservist training program was launched in March to improve the combat readiness of Taiwan’s reserve forces.
Under the new program, reservists undergo two weeks of training rather than the previous five to seven days. During the two weeks, reservists do not have any days off and spend more time on combat training, the ministry said.
The new reservist training program was devised after the military in 2020 said that it wanted to ensure that Taiwan’s reserve force can more reliably back up regular forces amid an increase in Chinese military maneuvers around Taiwan.
As done previously, this year’s Han Kuang exercises are being held in two phases: war games and live-fire drills.
The war games were conducted from May 16 to 20.
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