Tensions rise across the Taiwan Strait as Taipei test-fires missiles

26-Sep-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Taiwan has test-fired missiles off its eastern and southern coasts following military manoeuvres staged by Beijing near the self-ruled island in recent days.

The Thursday night test was part of a two-day programme by the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology to examine the power of missiles launched from the eastern county of Taitung and the Jiupeng military base in the island’s southernmost county of Pingtung.

Another test is expected to be held on Friday night, according to the Taiwan Fisheries Agency, which warned fishermen to avoid the area.

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According to the agency’s public notice, there was “no ceiling” for the height of the missile tests, while their reach stretched 300km (186 miles) into the Pacific, encompassing the waters off the counties of Hualien and Taitung, including Orchid Island.

While the institute refused to comment on the type of missiles tested, the semi-official Central News Agency quoted an unnamed retired institute official as saying the missiles launched on Thursday were likely to be Tien Kung-3 (Sky Bow-3) a 200km-range surface-to-air missile designed to intercept guided missiles from the mainland.

According to CNA, the official said the night firing of the missiles which “rattle in the air with blinding flames” would have been more impressive, but for the thick cloudy skies.

Some local news media outlets, quoting unnamed military experts, said the missiles could have been Hsiung Feng III supersonic anti-ship weapons or Tien Kung-3, which were first test-fired at the Jiupeng military base three months ago.

The testing follows numerous incursions into Taiwan’s southwest air defence identification zone (ADIZ) by PLA warplanes in the recent days, with some crossing the median line through the Taiwan Strait.

According to the Taiwanese defence ministry, the PLA sent multiple warplanes including Jian-10 and Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets seven times in the past nine days to Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ, prompting the island’s air force to send up its own aircraft to shadow and warn them off.

According to local news media reports, in some of these encounters PLA pilots shouted that there was no median line when they were told by their Taiwanese counterparts via radio that it had been crossed.

Tensions in the Taiwan Strait have been rising, with a boost in military deployments there and in the wider South China Sea by Beijing, Washington and Taipei. The manoeuvres have raised concerns among academics and politicians, locally and overseas, that any misjudgment could lead to an unintended incident.

On Friday, the PLA also released a video showing its forces had test-fired 10 Dongfeng missiles in an apparent response to the island’s missile tests.



Category: Taiwan

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