A plane taxi at Taitung Fengnian Airport on Sept. 19, 2021. Photo: Huang Ming-tang, Taipei Times

/ Staff writer, with CNA

A military aircraft emergency landing and takeoff drill is to be staged for the first time at a civilian airport in Taitung County in July during annual live-fire military exercises, a military source told the Central News Agency yesterday.

The drill, to be staged at Taitung Fengnian Airport, is to simulate a scenario in which Taiwan's military airports and airstrips are severely damaged by enemy fire, requiring fighter jets to land at civilian ones or on highways, the source said.

It would be the first time this type of drill has been staged in the history of the airport, which opened in 1981, they said.

The drill would be part of the live-fire component of this year's Han Kuang military exercises.

The exercises have been held annually since 1984, in the form of live-fire drills and computerized war games, to test Taiwan's combat readiness in the face of a possible Chinese invasion.

This year's tabletop drills are expected to be staged in May, while the live-fire component should take place in July, the source said.

Meanwhile, the source said the military is also looking to turn a section of Provincial Highway No. 9 in eastern Taiwan into an emergency landing strip.

It is eyeing a 14.5km section of the road connecting Guanshan Township (Guanshan) and Luye Township (Luye) in northern Taitung County to serve as an emergency runway, the source said.

Taiwan's only emergency provincial highway landing strip at present is a 2.26km section of Provincial Highway No. 1 near Jiadong and Fangliao townships in southern Pingtung County.

Other emergency landing strips are located on sections of Freeway No. 1 in Madou and Rende districts in Tainan, Huatan Township in Changhua County and Minsyong Township in Chiayi County.

The Ministry of National Defense would not confirm the Taitung drill due to the sensitivity of the issue, but said it regularly tests Taiwan's civilian airports and emergency landing strips to make sure they are capable of handling takeoff and landing missions in wartime.

News source: TAIPEI TIMES