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Ma Ying-jeou confident in Taiwan's self-defence capability

Publication Date : 18-04-2013


Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday expressed confidence over the nation's self-defence capability after presiding over the nation's largest annual military drill during a live-fire exercise held at the outlying island of Penghu.

Accompanied by Chief of General Staff Yen Ming, Ma, wearing a helmet and bullet-proof vest, followed the one-hour drill in Penghu yesterday morning, which is held to test the military's combat readiness by simulating a Chinese invasion.

“The live-fire exercise demonstrated our determination to protect our country,” Ma said following the exercise.

Although cross-strait relations are at their most peaceful in 60 years, Taiwan cannot let its guard down and must remain ready amid China's military buildup, he said.

The president reiterated that Taiwan will not engage in an arms race with China, but will focus instead on making optimal use of its limited defence budget.

The nation will continue to develop “asymmetrical strategies” utilising unconventional capabilities to counter Beijing's growing military prowess, he noted.

Ma also expressed confidence in the armed forces' capability to counter a possible Chinese attack after witnessing that almost all the artillery rounds fired during the drill hit their intended targets.

Ammunition jam

However, three naval vessels were forced to drop the planned firing of their mk75, 76mm naval guns during the drill because of jamming problems with the ammunition feed, the Navy Command said.

Yesterday's live-fire drill is part of the annual Han Kuang series of exercises. It was the first time in five years that the annual large-scale drill included live ammunition.

The highlight of the drill was the locally developed Thunderbolt-2000 artillery multiple-launch rocket system (AMLRS). A total of 81 rockets were fired from nine Thunderbolt-2000 truck-mounted launchers yesterday, according to the Ministry of National Defence (MND).

The weapon system was developed by the military's chief research body, the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology. Development began in 1997.

The truck-mounted multibarrel AMLRS is designed to provide a quick-fire response against enemy amphibious assault landings. It is expected to be installed at military units around the country in the near future.

Other weapons featured in yesterday's drill included F-16A/B jet fighters, IDF fighters, F-5E fighters and Kuang Hua VI fast-attack boats.

AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters and OH-58D reconnaissance helicopters, M60A3 battle tanks, 155mm howitzers and 120-mm mortars were also deployed in the drill.

Overall, 21 types of weapons were used and 7,682 military personnel participated in the drill, the ministry said.

The Han Kuang live military drills - Taiwan's most important annual war games - are part of Taiwan's efforts to strengthen its combat readiness in the face of a growing threat from China. The drills include all branches of the military.

Defence Minister Kao Hua-chu did not join the drill in Penghu with Ma and instead decided to remain in Taipei to monitor the ongoing tensions in the Korean Peninsula.


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