Taiwan may station IDF jets year-round in Penghu: source

2018/01/06 12:39:56 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
CNA file photo of IDF jet in Penghu

CNA file photo of IDF jet in Penghu

Taipei, Jan. 6 (CNA) Taiwan's military is open to the option of stationing a squadron of Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) jets year-round in Penghu County, especially in light of China's recent unilateral action to open new commercial flight routes in the Taiwan Strait, an official from the Air Force said Saturday.

Liberty Times reported earlier on Saturday that the military is considering stationing IDF jets in Penghu, a Taiwan-controlled archipelago located in the Taiwan Strait, full-time as opposed to only during the summers.

Doing so would be for national defense purposes, the report said.

A Republic of China (Taiwan) Air Force official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told CNA in response to the report that if there is a need for a full-time presence, it can be arranged, noting that stationing the IDF jets year-round in Penghu is one of the options for strengthening national defense capabilities.

Currently, a squadron of IDF jets is stationed on the offshore county of Penghu during the summer months to allow for immediate response to any activity from China's military aircraft, the official said.

The strong northeasterly winds in the winter render it useless to have the fighter jets there, the official said, but he noted that with climate change, Penghu has occasionally experienced winters with nice weather, so the military will station the jets there year-round if needed.

Following China's Civil Aviation Administration's unilateral announcement on Thursday that it was opening the M503 and other commercial flight routes near the median line in the Taiwan Strait to northbound flights, the Ministry of National Defense has ordered the Taiwanese military to stop any threat to Taiwan's airspace by deterring any aircraft from crossing the line.

(By Liu Lee-jung and Kuan-lin Liu)
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