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Taiwan Air Force begins air defense drills

Tian Long exercise features competitions testing combat capabilities of pilots, ground forces

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Taiwanese soldier firing 35 mm anti-aircraft gun. (Military News Agency photo)

Taiwanese soldier firing 35 mm anti-aircraft gun. (Military News Agency photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Air Force’s annual Tian Long exercise kicked off Monday (Oct. 19) with military aircraft carrying out drills at Hualien’s Chia Shan Air Force base and Skyguard air defense units competing at the Fang Shan shooting range in Pingtung County.

The exercise, which is scheduled to run until Oct. 30, includes competitions that test the Air Force’s air-to-ground, air-to-sea, air-to-air, and land-based combat readiness training. Aircraft participating in the exercise include F-16Vs, Indigenous Defense Fighters, Mirage 2000s, and P-3Cs, according to CNA.

The shooting competition held by the Air Force’s Air Defense and Artillery Command at the Fang Shan shooting range saw Skyguard units practice loading ammunition according to standard operating procedures and conduct daytime and nighttime shooting drills.

Air Force Commander General Hsiung Hou-chi (熊厚基) presided over the exercise's opening ceremony, encouraging air and ground crews to not only show off their fundamental skills but also demonstrate their combat capabilities. He told participating airmen to “strive for the highest honor” and “observe and learn from each other” to continue improving combat effectiveness, Military News Agency reported.

Hsiung stated that participating in the shooting competition means going all out but that win or lose, all personnel must pay attention to discipline and safety. He added that participants must be confident and capable to prevent the enemy from entering Taiwan’s airspace.