Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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China Launches Snap Air and Sea Drills in Response to Taiwan’s Planned Drills

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(Photo : MND) A Taiwanese Patriot PAC-3 SAM battery.

China immediately responded to the Republic of China's (Taiwan) announcement yesterday of more naval and aerial patrols in the South China Sea by today sending its warships and warplanes to conduct warfare exercises in the disputed waters.

China's state-owned media revealed warships of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), and jet fighters, strategic bombers and other planes from the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) carried out joint drills at the Miyako Strait to the northeast of Taiwan and between the southern Japanese islands of Miyako and Okinawa.

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"This exercise is part of annual plans for the navy, is not aimed at a specific country or target, and accords with relevant international laws and norms," said China in a statement about the drill.

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) said it monitored the joint drills, which took place outside the country's Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).

China's quick response ratchets up a new war of wills against Taiwan, which is rapidly rearming and modernizing the Republic of China Armed Forces (ROCAF) out of concern China will make good its promise to invade Taiwan before 2020.

Taiwan yesterday said the Republic of China Navy (ROCN) will increase the number of its patrols of the disputed South China Sea, and will conduct more joint drills with the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF).

"Looking ahead at the transformation of China's strategy and its investment in new weapons equipment, our military will practice new reforms in our training," said Taiwan's defense minister, Feng Shih-kuan, in a report to the Legislative Yuan, the country's parliament.

"The navy, during its regular South China Sea patrols, will conduct joint training with the air force in protecting fishermen and supply transports, and in humanitarian rescue drills to expand the combat readiness of our sea and air patrols," according to Feng.

The MND said that because of the rapid increase in China's military spending, ROCAF will enhance its combat preparedness through innovations in military maneuvers and training; flexible deployment of military forces and expanded exchanges between its armed services.

The Air Defense Missile Command, previously under the MND, has been placed under the Republic of China Air Force Command to facilitate a more unified air defense strategy and to strengthen Taiwan's combined air-naval combat capability.

More worrying for China, however, is the deployment of the MIM-104F Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile system to locations in eastern Taiwan where they can destroy more of its ballistic missiles.

PAC-3 batteries have been deployed to the Hualien and Taitung area of eastern Taiwan in response to changes in China's military strategy, said the MND.

Arguably the most advanced surface-to-air missile (SAM) system with an anti-ballistic missile capability, PAC-3 is dedicated almost entirely to shooting down anti-ballistic missiles. Due to miniaturization, a single canister can hold four PAC-3 missiles as against one PAC-2 missile per canister.

The PAC-3 missile is also more maneuverable than previous variants due to 180 tiny pulse solid propellant rocket motors mounted in the forebody of the missile.   

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