Date: Apr 01, 2016
By: Jason Pan / Staff reporter
Minister of Defense Kao Kuang-chi (高廣圻) yesterday said that tension has been rising in
the South China Sea amid an arms race among nations in the region, and that Taiwan’s armed forces are ready to defend its remote island outposts.
Due to a potential military threat against Taiwan’s islands in the South China Sea, Kao said programs have been underway to enhance radar installations and electronic surveillance in the region and to improve the combat capability of the nation’s coast guard units stationed on the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島) and Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島).
According to a Ministry of National Defense report to the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, the ministry has mandated the Navy’s Marine Corps to train coast guard units on weapon handling, operating artillery guns and field combat drills, for those units deployed on Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) and other outposts in the South China Sea.
It said that in recent years, defensive firepower on these outposts has been enhanced with the installation of Bofors 40mm guns and Taiwan’s own T-63 120mm mortar systems, which receive regular repair and maintenance checks by artillery technicians.
When asked by Democratic Progressive Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) if the ministry has deployed anti-air missile defense systems on these islands, Kao said he was not at liberty to answer. [FULL STORY]