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Taiwanese, French fighter pilots fend off simulated enemy in joint training session

Taiwan holds air force tactical exchange with France in Hualien

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Taiwanese Mirage 2000 fighter jet. 

Taiwanese Mirage 2000 fighter jet.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — An annual exchange between the Taiwanese and French Air Force took place on Oct. 14 at the Chiashan Air Force Base in Hualien, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Mixed teams were formed, consisting of both Taiwanese and French pilots. The 17th Squadron of the Taiwan Air Force's 5th Tactical Fighter Wing assumed the role of the simulated enemy, engaging in aerial tactical combat and rehearsing other scenarios, per CNA.

The aim of the exercise was to enhance the aerial combat capabilities of the Taiwanese Mirage 2000 and the F-16V fighter pilots. The exchange provides an opportunity for the Taiwanese Air Force to review its deployment of Mirage fighter jets, the source said.

Each year, France dispatches active-duty or retired pilots to engage in tactical and strategic exchanges in eastern Taiwan. Mirage fighter jets play a crucial role in Taiwan's air defense, as they are responsible for high-altitude interception.

Taiwan has taken greater precedence in France’s Indo-Pacific strategy. In its seven-year military spending plan signed into law by French President Emmanuel Macron in August, France pledged to defend freedom of navigation in the region — including the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait — according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The plan allotted 413 billion euros (US$446 billion), the largest defense budget increase the nation has seen in 50 years.