5th August 2022 – (Taipei) Xinhua News Agency reported that China deployed more than 100 warplanes and 10 warships in the live-fire military drills surrounding Taiwan over the past two days. The military’s Eastern Theatre Command also fired new versions of missiles it said hit unidentified targets in the Taiwan Strait “with precision.” Five of the missiles fired by China allegedly landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone off Hateruma, an island far south of Japan’s main islands, Japanese Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi said.
Meanwhile, Taiwan News reported that Taiwan Air Force aircraft resumed routine training on the east coast on Friday, one day after China launched ballistic missiles near Taiwan as part of a military exercise. Though military operations are gradually returning to normal, the Ministry of National Defence (MND) said it detected and monitored three Chinese guided-missile destroyers and one electronic reconnaissance ship sailing in the waters east of Taiwan on Friday morning, per CNA. It said 10 Chinese naval vessels had been tracked taking part in exercises around the Taiwan Strait and crossing the Taiwan Strait median line.
A Taiwanese social media post on Friday explains the reasons why Taiwan is not attempting to shoot down the ballistic missiles being fired over Taiwan.
From 1.56pm to 4pm on Thursday, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launched 11 Dongfeng ballistic missiles into the waters surrounding northern, southern, and eastern Taiwan in waves, according to the Ministry of National Defence (MND). Japan’s Defense Ministry also announced that five ballistic missiles launched by China landed in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and four had flown over Taipei.
Many members of the public have questioned why Taiwan’s military has not used its air defence systems, such as Patriot missiles, to intercept the missiles. On Friday morning, the Facebook community page for the “Wang Li Second World War Research Institute” uploaded a post that included illustrations explaining why Taiwan’s military has not attempted to shoot down these missiles.
It pointed out that ballistic missiles usually fly into space before coming back down to hit their target, with the Karman line, 100 kilometers above the Earth, considered the boundary of space. The MND on Thursday evening said the main flight path of the Dongfeng ballistic missiles was outside the atmosphere.
The author of the post pointed out that although these missiles flew over Taiwan, because they were in space they were not considered to be in the country’s airspace. The tacit understanding internationally is that airspace does not extend into space. Otherwise, with Chinese satellites flying over Taiwan every day, “doesn’t that mean that Taiwan’s sovereignty is violated every day?” joked the writer.
As to whether Taiwan should use the Patriot III anti-ballistic missile defense system to intercept the Dongfeng missiles, the author pointed out the Patriot is not used to intercept missiles in space, but rather enemy missiles entering Taiwan’s airspace.
The article added that one Patriot missile costs NT$50 million, while a Dongfeng missile costs less than half of that at NT$20 million. In addition, every time a missile is launched, it provides data to military observers “so there is a free opportunity to collect data on an enemy country, and you must say thank you in your heart.”