WAR.WIRE
Taiwan to hold second drill in less than two months
TAIPEI (AFP) Sep 16, 2003
Taiwan's military will hold a second round of large-scale wargames next month, officials said Tuesday, after a massive exercise earlier this month highlighted glitches in its hi-tech weaponry.

Huang Suey-sheng, the spokesman for the defense ministry, told AFP the next round of military exercises would be held in mid-October in southern Taiwan.

"In principle the exercise would showcase the capabilities of joint operation of the armed forces, ground defense and amphibious anti-landing," Huang said, adding it had been scheduled well in advance.

The drill will be staged less than two months after the "Han Kuang 19 (Han Glory)" exercise -- the biggest in Taiwan's history -- was staged in northeastern county on September 4.

Han Kuang 19 was seen as unsuccessful by analysts after a hi-tech missile and torpedo launched during the drill missed their targets.

The military also dropped the plan to fire a French-made Mica long-range air-to-air missile from a Mirage fighter alleging they had found two spy ships near the site of the maneuver, one each from China and Japan.

Yet the military later admitted the about-face resulted from the mistaken destruction of the Mica's target by a surface-to-air missile launched by another frigate.

Despite the embarrassment, President Chen Shui-bian hailed the drill saying it was generally a "success" and asked the armed forces to continue sharpening their combat skills.

In the past drill, sophisticated missiles were fired and high-tech weaponry was mobilized in a mock "invasion" by rival China.

Military officials said nearly all the modern weaponry Taiwan owns, including 44 jet fighters, was mobilized in the 110-minute drill, which involved 6,000 soldiers and was presided over by Chen.

China has repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan should the island declare independence or indefinitely postpone reunification with the mainland.

Taiwan's defense ministry warned last month that China would be capable of mounting a successful attack on Taiwan after 2008 if the island did not strengthen its defensive capabilities.

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