Taiwan Launches Annual Han Kuang 23 Military Exercises

On May 15, Taiwan launched its annual Han Kuang (Han Glory) live-fire exercises that are meant to test the island’s defense capabilities and its ability to conduct counterattacks against military actions by China. The exercise began with six fighters—two F-16s, two Mirage 2000-5s, and two Indigenous Defense Fighters (IDFs)—conducting an emergency landing on a stretch of the Sun Yat-sen Freeway. Once the planes landed, ground crew equipped them with missiles and bombs before they took off an hour later (CNA, May 16). The drill, meant to simulate a scenario in which Taiwanese air bases were destroyed by a barrage of Chinese missiles and bombs, is the second such exercise in three years. The following day, the Taiwanese Navy conducted its first live-fire test of the U.S.-made Standard-II surface-to-air missile, which was launched from a Kidd-class destroyer, while the Army launched the indigenously developed Hsiung Feng II and U.S.-made Sparrow missiles (AFP, May 16). Some 120,000 soldiers and 23,000 reservists are expected to participate in the four-day exercise, which are to include drills against Chinese airborne and special forces assaults on Taiwan’s offshore islands and harbors as well as a counter-landing exercise in Pingtung County in southern Taiwan. The annual drills are attended by a U.S. delegation of military and civilian officials who serve as unofficial advisors to the Taiwanese military. This year’s delegation is led by retired Admiral Dennis Blair, who previously served as the commander of the U.S. forces in the Pacific.