By WENDELL MINNICK, TAIPEI
Taiwan launched its largest wargame ever July 20, a joint anti-invasion exercise that features 20,000 troops, the interception of two missiles and defenses against computer hackers.
Slated to last into early August, Han Kuang 22 (Han Glory) simulated the repulse of mainland Chinese amphibious forces along Taiwan’s eastern coast.
“This is an annual exercise and the largest anti-landing exercise in Taiwan’s history,” a military spokesman said.
He said the military also prepares for other scenarios, including attempts to decapitate the country’s leadership.
The exercise featured anti-hacker drills, which were first added to the Han Kuang schedule in 2000. Taiwan’s military and other government computers have come under frequent attack in recent years by hackers from China, which created its first cyberwarfare unit in 1999, according to Lee Jye, Minister of National Defense.
“We need constant protection for confidential information stored on computers,” Lee said.
The exercise featured many missile launches. Taiwanese crews used two Raytheon Patriot Advanced Capability-2 (PAC-2 Plus) air defense missiles to shoot down two locally built Tien Kung 2 (Sky Bow) air defense missiles in a simulation of a Chinese attack with Dong Feng 11 and 15 short-range ballistic missiles.
The live launch of Patriots was only Taiwan’s second, after a 2001 test.
The Tien Kung 2 itself is based on the Patriot; Taiwan is also developing the more-advanced Tien Kung 2A.
In 1993, Taiwan bought three missile batteries and 200 PAC-2 Plus missiles, an upgraded version of the system U.S. troops used in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. U.S. officials have pressured Taipei to buy more Patriots, but debate by Taiwan’s political and military elite have forestalled any such purchase. A proposal to buy the more advanced PAC-3 has been delayed by the legislature for several years.
The exercise also saw the launch of indigenous Hsiung Feng 2 (Brave Wind) anti-ship missiles at a retired U.S.-built Gearing-class destroyer, some fired from a U.S.-built Knox-class frigate and some from land-based batteries. AH-1W Cobra gunship helicopters and Army Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided missile crews also fired at simulated landing ships close to shore.
Other Taiwanese missiles fired in the exercise included Tien Chien 1 (Sky Sword) air defense weapons, the Ray Ting (Thunder 2000) multiple-launch rocket system and the Hsiung Feng 1.
Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian recently announced that China has 820 missiles aimed at Taiwan, including 784 Dong Feng 11s and 15s and 36 cruise missiles, with 120 more added annually.
Chen, who attended the exercise, told reporters that China was attempting to weaken Taiwan to make it easier to invade.
“China’s military spending has increased at a double-digit rate since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. This is by no means a path leading to peace,” Chen told a group of scholars attending a July 17 international conference on sea-lane security in Taipei.
U.S. military and government officials assigned to the American Institute of Taiwan, the de facto U.S. Embassy in Taipei, also attended the exercise.