An Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) is seen at Tainan AFB. (Wendell Minnick / Staff)
Despite a pair of scandals that ended the careers of two defense ministers in the past six weeks, Taiwan’s military showed high morale during showcase drills by army elite special forces, a marine corps unit, and an air force fighter wing. Defense News attended the Aug. 26-27 exercises, which were meant to display the military’s confidence in its ability to defend the island.
On Aug. 26, the Airborne Special Force Command’s 862 Airborne and the 602 Aviation Brigade repelled a simulated Chinese ground force as it attempted to capture the airstrip. Two AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters and one OH-58D Kiowa armed reconnaissance helicopter provided support for elements of the 862, and two aging UH-1H Huey transport helicopters were used to simulate the insertion of Chinese soldiers onto the 602 base in Xinshe, near Taichung on the west coast. The drill was scaled down due to poor weather.
The military also provided tours of the 602’s helicopter maintenance center. Weapons specialists demonstrated arming the Super Cobra with the AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile and the Kiowa with the AGM-114C Hellfire anti-tank missile.
The army is awaiting the delivery of 30 AH-64 Apache Longbow attack helicopters and 60 UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters. The Black Hawks will replace the army’s UH-1H helicopters and the Apaches will supplement the army’s two squadrons of Super Cobras.
On Aug. 27, reporters watched an urban warfare drill by the 99th Marine Regiment at Urban Simulation Center on Tsoying Naval Base in southern Taiwan. Four AAV-7A1 amphibious assault vehicles supported Marines during the simulated assault on two occupied buildings.
The vehicles were among the 84 rebuilt AAV-7s, including four AAVC-7A1 Command Vehicles and two AAVR-7A1 Recovery Vehicles, delivered by the US under a $153 million deal signed in 2003. They replaced 84 Vietnam War-era LVTP-5A1 vehicles. The AAV-7s are fielded with the 66th Marine Brigade in Linkou, northern Taiwan, and the 99th Marine Brigade at Tsoying.
The Marines set up two JTS JDA-49P (470-900 mHz) passive UHF directional antennas before the drill. Used for radio communications, these are relatively new to the Marines.
Elsewhere on Aug. 27, the Air Force’s 443 Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) scrambled two upgraded Indigenous Defense Fighters (IDF) from Tainan Air Force Base in a simulated response to an airspace intrusion.
The aircraft are among the 71 IDFs upgraded by the state-run Aerospace Industry Development Corp. with new radar, avionics, heads-up display, electronic counter-countermeasures, and digital flight computer. The remaining 56 IDFs are expected to begin upgrades in 2014.
The 443 TFW also displayed two static IDFs along with the Tien Chien (Sky Sword) 1 and 2 air-to-air missiles, along with two gravity bombs: the 500-pound Mark 82 and the 2,000-pound Mark 84.