The military yesterday conducted its first anti-takeover drill at Taiwan’s major international gateway in Taoyuan to test its ability to fend off a Chinese invasion, as the nation’s annual live-fire Han Kuang exercises continued.
At Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, members of the Aviation Special Forces Command and Army Airborne Special Forces posed as “red” invading forces and “blue” ground troops deployed to repel the takeover, the Ministry of National Defense said.
The exercise was designed to test the armed forces’ cross-branch coordination and emergency response capabilities during a simulated Chinese invasion, the ministry said.
Photo: Ann Wang, Reuters
During the 40-minute drill, the red team arrived at the airport in four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and engaged in a simulated attack, while the blue team — consisting of army soldiers, aviation police officers and airport firefighters — defended the airport.
The red team also simulated a bomb attack at the airport, and firefighters on the blue team used two Oshkosh Striker 3000 firefighting vehicles to extinguish the explosives, the ministry said.
Similar drills had previously been staged at airports in Taiwan, but never at the nation’s busiest civilian airport in Taoyuan.
When the ministry first announced the exercise earlier this year, Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said it would last an hour and potentially affect at least 61 flights and more than 4,000 travelers.
Yesterday, the drill was cut to 40 minutes, with the defense ministry saying it was done so that no scheduled flight would be delayed or affected by the exercise.
Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport live flight data showed that no commercial planes left a gate between 9:19am and 9:55am, and only one landed between 9:09am and 10:14am, indicating that the airport was not handling commercial traffic for about 40 minutes.
The military was also scheduled to hold an emergency landing and takeoff drill at a civilian airport in southeastern Taiwan on Tuesday as part of the Han Kuang exercises, but it was canceled on Monday due to Typhoon Doksuri, which was expected to affect the south.
The planned drill at Taitung Fengnian Airport, the first of its kind since the airport opened in 1981, would have involved F-16 jets and C-130H Hercules transport aircraft, the defense ministry said.
The live-fire component of this year’s Han Kuang exercises started early on Monday.
The annual military drills, which have served as Taiwan’s major war games since 1984, consist of live-fire exercises and computerized war games, and are meant to test the military’s combat readiness in the face of a possible Chinese invasion.
This year’s tabletop exercises were staged in May.
Meanwhile, the military and civilian police joined forces early Wednesday for a hostage crisis and bomb threat drill for the first times at the Taipei Main Station, as part of the ongoing live-fire part of the Han Kuang military exercises.
The drill, held on Wednesday morning around 2 a.m. in one section of Taipei Main Station, one of Taiwan’s busiest transportation hubs, involved a mock hostage taking of civilians by hostile forces.
After being informed about the situation by metro police, military police from the nearby 211th battalion under the 202nd Military Police Command, along with officers from the Taipei Police Department, arrived at the scene.
After eliminating the abductors, the police then discovered a mock explosive device and dispatched a bomb squad to detonate it.
In addition, before the Taipei Main drill, the 202nd Military Police Command held a round of exercises involving the blockading of a bridge around midnight, which simulated the prevention of enemy forces advancing into Taipei City from nearby New Taipei City.
Working together with Taipei Wanhua District police forces and civilian defense units, military police used roadblocks to set up spot-check sites at Wanban Bridge —that connects New Taipei’s Banqiao District with Taipei’s Wanhua District — to stop enemy forces traveling into Wanhua, which is only ten minutes away from the Presidential Office Building and Taipei Main Station, as well as other key political and economic infrastructure.
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