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September 23, 2017

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Malfunctioning drone ruins near-perfect military exercise

More than 90 percent of all missiles fired during a live-fire air defense drill successfully hit their targets in a southern Pingtung County military drill ground yesterday, the military announced yesterday.

An out-of-control target drone, however, ruined the near-perfect performance given by local troops in the drill. The drone fell into a village in eastern Taitung County. No casualties were reported as a result of the accident.

A total of 25 out of 26 missile launchers were fired by members of the Air Force, Army and Navy during the two-hour drill at Jioupeng military base in Pingtung, announced General Ma Ze-yong (馬自勇), an Air Force senior official responsible for the drill, at a post-drill press conference at noon, yesterday.

Only one Hsiung-Feng II anti-ship missile failed to hit the designated drone, Ma said, who blamed technical problems that resulted in premature detonation of the missile before it hit the target.

Other precision weapons tested during yesterday's drill included Maverick air-to-surface missiles, Tien-Chien II air-to-air missiles, Tien-Chien I air-to-air missiles, Hawk surface-to-air missiles, MICA air-to-air missiles and Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, which were fired and hit their marks successfully, Ma added.

The drill, presided over by Ministry of National Defense (MND) Chief of General Staff Admiral Lin Chen-yi, was held to test the military's ability to repel opposing Chinese forces.

Target Drone Malfunction

However, an accident took place during yesterday's drill when one of the unmanned aerial vehicle target drones went out of control and fell onto the ground in Taitung County.

The CK-3 target drone registered under the Navy was launched from a naval vessel at sea, off Pingtung, and was supposed to be flying in the air to test missiles' capability to hit the targets.

But instead, the unmanned aerial vehicle was heading to nearby Taitung County after the launch and ultimately crashed on a road in Shangwu Village, Dawu Township, (大武鄉尚武村) according to the military.

The crash of the vehicle left a huge hole, measuring 90 cm in diameter, in the middle of the road, several meters away from a house. No one was injured during the accident, military said.

Asked to comment on the incident, Ma said yesterday that the MND will conduct investigations to determine the cause for the missile's malfunction.

Yesterday's live-fire drill was the largest drill to take place in Jioupeng military base since January this year.

The president presided over the last drill, held on Jan. 18, where one-third of the missiles missed their targets. The unsatisfactory performance left the president shaking his head with dissatisfaction, and reinforced Taiwanese people's negative impression of their armed forces.

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