A Hawk ground-to-air missile is launched June 9 during a live-fire military missile drill at Chiupeng Military Base,Taiwan. Various missiles were launched during the drill. (Sam Yeh / Agence France-Presse)
CHIUPENG MILITARY BASE, Taiwan — Two of 26 missiles missed their targets when Taiwan’s military carried out a live-fire exercise on July 9, but officers in charge said they were happy with the result.
More than 2,300 soldiers were mobilized in the drill held in a tightly-guarded missile base facing the Pacific Ocean, in Pingtung county in the island’s south.
The missiles that missed their targets were a Hsiungfeng II (Brave Wind II), an improved version of the Hsiungfeng ship-to-ship missile, and a Tien Chien I (Sky Sword I) surface-to-air missile, both of which were locally developed and manufactured.
Twenty-four other missiles, launched from aircraft, vessels and ground batteries, destroyed their targets in the drill, which was presided over by Gen. Lin Chen-yi, chief of staff of the island’s armed forces.
“General Lin is satisfied with the outcome of the maneuver,” a military officer told reporters.
Previous drills have been less successful. In an embarrassing flop in 2011, six out of 19 missiles missed their targets or failed to explode during a live-fire missile test attended by the press.
The missile drill was likely watched carefully by China’s People’s Liberation Army, which currently has more than 1,600 missiles aimed at the island, according to estimates by Taiwanese experts.
Lingering threats by China against Taiwan have prompted Taiwanese authorities to stockpile thousands of missiles, which it has either purchased from the United States or manufactured itself.