Monday, May 3, 2010

Taiwan’s Hidden Base Will Safeguard Aircraft

Defense News


Taiwan’s Hidden Base Will Safeguard Aircraft

Features Taxiway That Connects Secretly With Adjacent Base


HUALIEN, Taiwan — Taiwan military officials at Hualien Air Base disclosed April 27 that an underground air base located inside an adjacent mountain would serve as a sanctuary for its fighters during a Chinese air attack.

The hidden base, dubbed Jiashan, is inside a hollowed-out mountain just west of Hualien Air Base on the island’s eastern coast. The disclosure came as Air Force personnel practiced repairing runways after a simulated air attack from China as part of the annual Han Kuang military exercises.

China has about 1,300 short­range ballistic missiles aimed at the island, along with about 400 fighters and bombers capable of hitting Taiwan air bases.

The media were not allowed to visit Jiashan, but sources said a 7,500-foot taxiway allowing aircraft to move back and forth uninhibited connects the secret base and Hualien.

Jiashan also has a separate 8,000-foot runway and can be viewed on Google Earth at 24 degrees, 1 minute, 31.8 seconds north latitude, and 121 degrees, 35 minutes, 17.8 seconds east longitude. 

Underground ‘Bomb Shelter’ 

The mountain base is Taiwan’s largest underground “bomb shelter” for aircraft, a Taiwan military source said. A second smaller underground facility is located at Taitung Air Base in the southeast. Construction of Jiashan began in 1985 and was completed in 1993 under the Jianan No. 3 project. It is large enough to handle 200 fighters and is considered the second­most important military facility on the island.

The first is the Hengshan Command Center inside a hollowed-out mountain in Dazhi, in the northern part of Taipei. Hengshan has been compared to the U.S. military’s Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center.

Hualien Air Base is the home of three squadrons of F-16 fighters, the 401st (5th) Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW), but during the media visit, the Air Force instead displayed four French-built Mirage 2000 fighters belonging to the 499th TFW, based at Hsinchu Air Base on the west coast.

“They will come here during a war for safety,” a military official said.

Two of the Mirage fighters performed a six-minute pre-flight emergency response exercise, but neither took off due to poor weather conditions.

During the runway repair exercise at Hualien, Air Force personnel demonstrated the Rapid Runway Repair system used to repair runways destroyed by aerial bombing. Taiwan bought the system from U.S.-based Colt Rapid Mat in 2002 for $43 million. Air Force Lt. Gen. Pan Kung-hsiao said service members could use the system to repair runways quickly after an attack.

The military also demonstrated the Portarrest P-IV mobile aircraft arresting system that will allow fighters to quickly decelerate for shorter landings.

A bomb disposal unit also showed off its ability to locate and defuse unexploded ordnance.

Also at the base, with access restricted, was Taiwan’s sole electronic warfare C-130HE Hercules (1351). Taiwan procured 20 C-130s in the late 1990s to replace aging C-119 Flying Boxcar aircraft. The Air Force converted one of the C-130s into an electronic warfare platform under the Tien Kan (Sky Interference) program led by Lockheed Martin and the military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology.