Taiwan will simulate an attack against China’s sole aircraft carrier during annual war games scheduled for next month.
According to a report in the China Post, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced on Tuesday that annual computer war games will simulate Taiwan’s response to an all-out invasion of the island by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in 2015. The report said that this will include simulating attacks against China’s only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which Taipei apparently expects would be utilized by the PLA were it to invade Taiwan next year.
China Post went on to say that Taiwan’s military would also be simulating various responses to some of the other most recent additions to the PLA’s arsenal, without specifically naming any weapon systems besides the aircraft carrier. Other reports have suggested that Taiwan’s simulated response will include the use of weapon systems that Taiwan recently acquired from the United States, including the AH-64E Apache attack helicopter and the P-3C anti-submarine aircraft. In addition, the drill will include the use of Taiwan’s recent, domestically produced Thunderbolt-2000 artillery multiple-launch rocket system.
No reports suggested that Taiwan’s military would simulate using any of its new so-called “carrier killers,” although the lead ship of the class is expected to be deployed early next year.
The computerized war games are scheduled to take place May 19 through May 23. They will be part of the Han Kuang 30 military exercise, Taiwan’s most important annual military drill which features all of the different services of the military. Senior retired U.S. military officials often travel to Taiwan to observe the proceedings.
The Han Kuang military drills are divided into two parts: one consisting of live-fire drills and the other of computer simulations. The China Post report notes that the live-fire portion of the drills are usually held in April, followed by the computer-aided war games in July. This year the live-fire drills have been pushed back to September while the computer simulated portion of the war games have been moved up a month.
According to Focus Taiwan News Channel, the live-fire drills in September “will include fighter jets practicing emergency landings and takeoffs on a specially adapted section of a freeway in southern Taiwan.” This underscores Taiwan’s intention to use fairly unconventional tactics to try and offset the increasingly unbalanced cross-strait military situation.
The decision to include China’s aircraft carrier in the simulated war games suggests that Taiwan believes Beijing is acquiring the capability to operate the vessel effectively even during combat conditions, at least if those operations are close to China’s borders. The decision might have been influenced by the Liaoning traveling through the Taiwan Strait last November on its way to the South China Sea for a training mission.
As of last week, the Liaoning itself is undergoing its first interim period at the Dalian Shipyard. China’s state media has said the maintenance period would last around six months. During this time, according to the reports, “comprehensive overhaul and maintenance will be conducted on the power, weapons, and other systems” of the carrier.