Taiwan air force to increase late night flight training to counter CCP aggression

Taiwan’s air force apologized to the public as it announced that it would conduct late-night flight training to counter the increasing threat level posed by the Chinese military in Taiwan’s air and sea space.

In a press release issued yesterday evening, March 5, Air Force Command said that it would comply with instructions from the Ministry of National Defense (MND) to increase nighttime combat skills and tactical execution experience for pilots of various types of aircraft to enhance preparedness and safeguard airspace security.

The late-night missions will span over midnight, and the air force apologized for any impact it may have on the general public. Air Force Command asked for public understanding, saying the missions are necessary for rigorous training to prepare for potential threats and challenges.

The announcement comes after an increase in harassments by the Chinese Communist Party via gray zone warfare tactics employed by the Chinese military, and more recently by the Chinese Coast Guard.

For decades, military aircraft abided by a tacit understanding that there was a median line in the Taiwan Strait which neither side’s military crossed over. In March 2019, two People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) fighter jets crossed the mid-strait and flew 43 nautical miles into the Taiwan side, forcing intercepts by Taiwan’s Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF). This was the beginning of an increasing number of incursions, and a declaration by CCP officials that there is no center-line in the Taiwan Strait.

Incursions and encirclements by China’s military aircraft have become a daily occurrence, constituting a “new normal” since 2020. Yesterday, March 5, Taiwan’s MND announced that in the 24 hours to 6:00 am, a total of 12 PLAAF aircraft and 6 People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ships were tracked in Taiwan’s air and sea identification zones, including two aircraft and one balloon that crossed the median line.

Also yesterday, March 5, China’s finance ministry announced a 7.2% increase in its military budget while calling for “reunification” with Taiwan. Previous announcements had always used the term “peaceful reunification,” but the word “peaceful” appears to have dropped out of the CCPs political parlance.

Among military officials who spoke to the Taiwan Legislative Yuan’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee this morning, Minister of the Veterans Affairs Council, Feng Shih-kuan, a retired air force general, spoke to public concerns raised by the media about the impact of late night flights taking off and landing at airbases around the island.

Feng said that when he was a commander at Tainan Air Base, members of the public had complained about aircraft taking off and landing after 9:00 pm, but the situation has changed now. Shih said that when people hear planes taking off late at night now, they understand that the planes are on an intercept mission, and their thoughts are with the pilots, hoping for a safe return.

Feng Shih-kuan at the Legislative Yuan
Feng Shih-kuan answers questions at the Legislative Yuan Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, March 6, 2024. Picture: Legislative Yuan live broadcast.
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