Taiwan test fires Sky Bow air defense missiles amid tensions with Beijing

Amid aggressive tactics by Chinese military jets, Taiwan stages live fire and air defense exercises on Wednesday

Taipei -- Taiwan's military on Wednesday launched a three-day live-fire exercise off the coast of eastern Taiwan to test its air defense capabilities, which will include the test firing of the country's domestically-developed Tien Kung (天弓導彈, Sky Bow) anti-ballistic missile system.

Amid heightened tensions following an unprecedented phone call between President-elect Donald Trump and a Fox News interview in which he questioned the need to adhere to the "one China" policy, Beijing has been ramping up military exercises around Taiwan's periphery. Chinese military aircraft have circled Taiwan and approached, though have not yet breached, Taiwan's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), on two separate occasions this month.

According to media reports, the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology will be holding a live-fire drill from its Jiupeng Base, in Pingtung County from Dec. 14-16.  For the duration of the test, civilian ships and aircraft are strictly prohibited from entering a sea "danger zone" that runs 200 kilometers from Jiuping in the south to Yilan in the north, and airspace above the zone up to 80,000 feet.

Long-range anti-aircraft artillery and missiles are expected to be tested, including Taiwan's domestically developed air defense system - the Sky Bow series of surface-to-air anti-ballistic missiles (ABM).  In order to deter Chinese military aircraft from approaching the east coast of Taiwan, the army will strategically deploy three batteries of it's most advanced ABM system - the Sky Bow III - which has a range of 200 kilometers. 

Also on Wednesday, the army staged an air defense drill called "Lien Hsiang" (聯翔操演) which used two F-16 Falcon fighter jets to simulate the response of air defenses to a night attack by PLA military aircraft on Hualien Air Force Base.