Taiwan lands fighters on highway as annual drills reach peak

TAIPEI: Taiwanese fighter jets landed on a makeshift runway on a highway strip on Wednesday (Sep 15) overseen by President Tsai Ing-wen as annual drills reached their peak, skills that would be needed in the event China attacks and targets Taiwan’s vulnerable air bases.

China has been ramping up its military pressure against the island it claims as “sacred” Chinese territory, hoping to force the democratically elected government to accept Beijing’s sovereignty, including with repeated exercises near Taiwan.

Tsai, re-elected by a landslide last year on a pledge to stand up to China, has made modernising Taiwan’s mainly US-equipped military a priority, turning it into a “porcupine”, both highly mobile and hard to attack.

Three fighters – an F16, French-made Mirage and a Ching-kuo Indigenous Defence Fighter – plus an E2 Hawkeye early warning aircraft landed in rural southern Pingtung county on a highway strip specially designed to be straight and flat for rapid conversion from a road into a runway.

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