In response to the Chinese island-invasion drills ‘aimed’ at Taiwanese Pratas Islands, the Republic of China Air Force deployed two F-16A Viper aircraft conducting patrols armed with AGM-84 “Harpoon” Anti-Ship missiles to deter Chinese belligerence in the region.
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As reported by EurAsian Times earlier, China is expected to hold large scale drills off the Hainan Island, allegedly a “simulation” for the invasion of Pratas Island. The move is seen as a serious provocation and an imminent threat by the Taiwanese authorities, which was responded by conducting its own large-scale military exercises.
Taiwan has stepped up the deployment of additional Marines to Pratas, along with F-16 Vipers to consolidate the defence of the Island. Sharing the photos of Taiwanese F-16s on a combat air patrol (CAP) armed with Harpoon anti-ship missiles along with AIM-120D and AIM-9X air-to-air missiles, aviation reporter Roy Choo tweets:
“Ahead of a potential PLA island-seizing exercise, purportedly representative of the Pratas Islands, the ROCAF launched two 5th TFW F-16As on CAP this morning, both fitted out with air-launched AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles.”
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Speaking to the reporters from The War Zone, Choo adds “The 5th TFW F-16s at Hualien are usually tasked with anti-shipping missions with the Harpoons while the F-16s from the 4th TFW at Chiayi Air Force Base are usually seen employing AGM-65 Maverick missiles for anti-surface roles.”
As China flexes its muscle in the South China Sea, the recent events show a spike in tensions when the U.S. Navy moved two Supercarriers USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan to the disputed sea the first time after 6 years as a show of force. The two supercarriers then went on to conduct exercises with India, Japan and Australia called “The QUAD”.
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Japan, too, is reported to be strengthening its military preparedness against China. Recent reports of territorial violations by the Chinese Navy (PLA-N) in the Japanese Senkaku/Diaoyu islands for more than three months has triggered the changing of the “self-defence-only” policy of Tokyo. As a countermeasure, Japan announced that it would scramble its fighter jets against any sortie carried out from the Chinese Fujian airbase.