Taiwan tests 'China invasion' scenario

AFP News

Taiwan Thursday tested its ability to defend one of it largest air bases against Chinese invasion, a scenario experts insisted remained relevant in an age of missile and cyber attacks.

About 1,500 soldiers took part in the drill, part of the island's biggest annual war game "Han Kuang (Han Glory) No 28", at Hsinchu Air Base in the north of the island, home to dozens of French-made Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets.

"Radars have detected enemy aircraft approaching from across the Taiwan Strait," an officer told foreign and local journalists invited to report on the event.

As high-pitched sirens filled the air, Tien Chien I (Sky Sword) missiles were deployed and fighter jets were scrambled, as around 200 fully armed "enemy" paratroopers dropped from transport aircraft.

AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters, tanks, and armoured vehicles were also ordered to take part in a coordinated, and eventually successful, counter-attack against the invaders.

Some military analysts have argued that a D-Day style invasion of Taiwan is becoming obsolete, and China is more likely to use blockade or some of its 1,600 missiles to defeat the island in case of war.

But local experts said it remained important to prepare for an actual physical invasion, which they said remained a likely scenario.

"Military experts generally agree the Chinese military would try to paralyse the island's command and communications facilities with intensive bombing," said Alexander Huang, a defence expert at Taipei's Tamkang University.

"Then it might block Taiwan's lifelines, airports and harbours before actually invading the island.

Ties between Taiwan and its former rival China have improved drastically since Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang party became president in 2008 promising to boost trade and tourism links.

But China still claims sovereignty over Taiwan, which has governed itself since 1949, and has vowed to get it back -- by force if necessary -- even though the island has ruled itself for more than 60 years.