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.
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.”
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”.
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.