Warplanes: Taiwan Uses Highways To Fight The Air War

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April 21, 2011: Back in the 1970s, Taiwan regularly practiced using highways as emergency air strips for fighter aircraft. Then that sort of thing was halted for 26 years, as Taiwan tried to make peace with China. In 2004 the highway landings were resumed, and now it's done every few years. There is some preparation involved, at least for the peacetime drills. Troops walk down the length of highway to be used, and remove any rocks or other objects that the aircraft wheels might hit. Then cars go down the road, honking their horns, to flush out any birds who might be sucked into the jets air intakes. At that point, the F-16s can come in and land. And then turn around and take off again.

These drills resumed in 2004, when Taiwan included actual use of superhighways, as secondary air fields for combat aircraft, in their military exercises. Two Mirage 2000 fighters landed on a highway, were serviced, and took off again. Parts of Taiwan's system of superhighways were designed just for this purpose, but actual use of the highways during training exercises has lapsed because the Defense Ministry did not want to block traffic or annoy China. This particular training exercise was done more for diplomatic reasons, to remind China that Taiwan had many defensive capabilities. In 2007, the highway drill was carried out once more, and again this year.

But since 2004, the government has admitted that they are concerned about what over 1,600 ballistic missiles China has stationed within range of Taiwan could do to Taiwanese airbases in time of war. Thus the highway landing drills are becoming more practical than political.

 

 


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