Taiwanese fighter jets land on a highway to simulate a Chinese invasion.
On Wednesday, fighter jets practiced landing on a highway in southern Taiwan as part of an annual live-fire military drill simulating the island’s defense against a Chinese invasion.
Taiwanese democracy is constantly threatened by Beijing, which claims the island as part of its territory and has threatened to take it by force if necessary.
Under President Xi Jinping, military tensions have reached a new height, with China frequently sending fighter jets and nuclear-capable bombers into Taiwan’s air defense zone, and state media constantly publicizing invasion maneuvers.
Various Taiwanese fighter fighters and an early warning aircraft practiced taking off and landing on a provincial highway in Pingtung county on Wednesday morning.
President Tsai Ing-wen was present for the drill, which is intended to hone Taiwanese pilot skills in the event that the island’s airstrips are destroyed.
In a Facebook post, Tsai said, “Such great combat skills, precise and rapid maneuvers come from hard training and indicate the air force’s confidence to protect our airspace.”
Wednesday’s rehearsal, which was part of the annual Han Kuang military exercises, took place on one of five motorways that were purposefully created with long parts that can allow planes landing.
An invasion of Taiwan would be extremely expensive and difficult, but Beijing has been steadily closing the military gap in recent years, and Xi has made no secret of his goal to see the island captured.
Senior US generals have publicly warned that China may attempt an invasion, and Taiwan’s defense has become a rare bipartisan issue in Washington.
Last year, Chinese planes and bombers flew 380 sorties within Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, a new high (ADIZ).
For the first eight months of this year, the number of invasions has already surpassed 400.
In the highest single-day invasion into Taiwan’s ADIZ, 28 Chinese planes broke the ADIZ in June. That happened after the G7 leaders released a historic statement calling for peace across the Taiwan Strait.
As Taiwan’s air force has been under persistent pressure from China, its aging fighter fleet has suffered a succession of tragic mishaps in recent years.