03:15 GMT +321 October 2019
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    Taiwan Navy's Perry-class frigate launches an ASROC (anti-submarine rocket) during the annual Han Kuang military exercises.

    Taiwan Holds Live-Fire Drills Off Coast Amid Tensions With China

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    Taiwan held one of its largest live-fire maritime drills in several years on Wednesday. The early morning drill off the island's east coast was reportedly divided into five operations, which included air defense, submarine and sea command operations.

    Some 22 fighter jets participated in the event, including the nation's Mirage 2000 multirole fighter, F-16s and the Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF), Taiwan News reported. Two Perry-class guided missile frigates were also deployed to join the operation, in addition to 12 other missile speedboats, according to the Central News Agency.

    The live-fire drill included simulations in which enemy combatants attacked the Taiwanese naval port of Suao in Yilan County, and the subsequent response from a warfare center located in the northeastern region.

    An aerial photo taken though a glass window of a Taiwanese military plane shows the view of Itu Aba, which the Taiwanese call Taiping, at the South China Sea, March 23, 2016
    © REUTERS / Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Handout via Reuters/File Photo

    According to the Navy Times, Taiwanese naval forces fired cannons and missiles and released depth charges, an anti-submarine weapon made specifically to destroy underwater vessels. Similar weaponry was tapped by the Taiwanese air force.

    Other scenarios included in the day's drills were anti-aircraft defense operations, firing missiles against aircraft and ships and testing Navy supply lines, Taiwan News reported. Local media reports indicate that the latest operation marked the largest exercise since the 30th edition of the Han Kuang drills in 2014, according to Focus Taiwan.

    The live-fire drills come as tensions between Taiwan and China have grown, with Chinese President Xi Jinping stating earlier this year that he has not ruled out the use of force when it comes to the matter of unifying the island nation with mainland China.

    Although Taiwan is self-governed, China has long thought of it as a wayward territory and attempted to block it from full participation in multilateral organizations or maintaining full diplomatic relations with other countries.

    In February 2019, Lt. Gen. Kunio Orita, a retired general with Japan's Air Self-Defense Force, told military website Stars & Stripes that China will likely invade Taiwan sometime in 2025 after it enacts a no-fly zone around the island.

    The retired military official noted that Beijing would later order its forces to attack Taiwan's navy and air force before implementing a blockade that would ultimately force the island's government to negotiate the installation of a government subservient to Beijing.

    Taiwan's Ministry of Defense has indicated that the country is also scheduled to carry out two additional drills later this month in the Huatan section of the National Freeway 1 and at a military firing range in the island's Pingtung County, a southern region known for its agriculture and tourism. Both events will be open to the media, Focus Taiwan reported.

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