Taiwan air pressure flexes muscle groups after newest Chinese language incursion | Navy Information

The self-governing island is strengthening its military as China becomes increasingly assertive.

Armed and ready for action, Taiwanese air force jets screamed into the sky in an exercise on Tuesday to simulate a war scenario. They showed their fleet’s combat readiness after dozens of Chinese fighter jets flew into the island’s air defense zone over the weekend.

Taiwan, which is claimed as its territory by China, has been in peril since the large-scale incursion by Chinese fighters and nuclear-capable bombers into the southwestern portion of its air defense zone on Saturday and Sunday, which coincided with the entry of a U.S. carrier group into the contested South China Sea .

The base in the southern city of Tainan, home of the F-CK-1 Ching-kuo Indigenous Defense Fighters (IDF), frequently crawls jets to intercept China’s air force.

In a hardened shelter, the First Tactical Fighter Wing flight crew was rushing to prepare two IDFs when an alarm bell rang to lift them off the ground within five minutes of a distress call, armed with U.S.-made and domestically developed air-to-ground Wan Chien cruise missiles.

Colonel Lee Ching-shi told Reuters that if they respond to Chinese jets, their jets will normally soar armed with guns, sidewinders and Taiwan-made Sky Sword missiles, and that they can react “anytime”.

“We are ready,” he said during a government-organized visit to the base. “We won’t give up an inch of our territory.”

Air force members prepare Wan Chien air-to-surface cruise missiles at the Tainan Air Force Base [Ann Wang/Reuters]China has stepped up its activities since Tsai Ing-wen was first elected president in 2016.

It has sought to bolster the island’s defenses by increasing the military’s asymmetrical warfare capabilities and buying billions of dollars in weapons from the United States, including upgraded F-16 fighter jets, armed drones, missile systems, and harpoon missiles that hit the sea and land can hit goals.

Last November, the island also began work on its first domestically produced submarine to improve coastal defense.

Washington has shown support by selling the island a record number of arms sales, visits by high-ranking officials and ending decades of restrictions on exchanges between US and Taiwanese officials.

Four IDFs were making tactical formation landings and rolling take-off exercises, and roared away from the runway.

China has not made a public statement about what its planes did over the weekend. Washington called on China to stop pressure on Taiwan and reaffirm its commitment to the democratic island.

Taiwan’s air force is well trained but has far fewer fighter jets than China and has tensed in recent months under pressure of almost constant fighting to respond to increased Chinese activity near the island.

“All the wings are under a lot of pressure, but as long as the air force is here we will respond according to the proper combat readiness rules,” said pilot Wang Chih-chan.

The F-CK-1 Ching-kuo (IDF) indigenous defense fighter on the runway at Tainan Air Force Base. The island is strengthening its defense forces to better respond to a more confident China [Ann Wang/Reuters]

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