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Taiwan to Stage Missile Drills to Test Less-Fortified Eastern Defense

Taiwan will stage a series of missile drills in waters off its eastern coastline to help Taipei assess its combat readiness against a potential Chinese invasion from the less fortified east.

Taiwan will deploy air and naval forces in the exercise, “firing air and ship-launched missiles at targets in three restricted zones in waters off the east and southeast coast of the self-ruled island,” South China Morning Post reported, citing a notice issued by Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency.

The live-fire exercise will take place in five sessions from this week until August 31.  

To Practice Air-to-Air and Anti-Ship Capabilities

The Taiwanese Air Force will practice precision strikes using F-16s, Mirage-2005s, and other fighter jets firing air-to-air missiles such as the AIM-120 AMRAAM, MICA, and Tien Chien-2.

Missile-armed warships and Harpoon anti-ship missile-equipped F-16s will also be deployed to practice attacking enemy ships. 

“More than 100 missiles are expected to be fired in the drills, with ranges far enough to clear the Taiwan Strait,” the outlet added, quoting a source.

Risk of Chinese Attack From the East

Taiwan has traditionally focused on fortifying its western side against the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as the eastern side is shielded by the Central Mountain Range.

However, deploying Chinese warships and warplanes toward Taiwan’s east and southeast could bolster an attack from the east.

The PLA could hope to effect a naval blockade of Taiwan from the east in the event of a conflict, South China Morning Post wrote, citing Institute for National Defence and Security Research analyst Shu Hsiao-huang.

“But to achieve this goal, the PLA needs to secure at least partial supremacy in the West Pacific to deny access to US forces from there,” he said.

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