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February, 26, 2017

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Military choppers land at defense ministry's compound

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Two military helicopters landed at the Ministry of National Defense headquarters in Taipei for the first time as part of an exercise to test the military's combat readiness and emergency response measures, the military said Friday.

The drill held early Friday saw one Naval anti-submarine S-70C helicopter and an Army UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter land at 7:15 a.m. on a helicopter pad at the compound in Taipei's Dazhi area. The two helicopters departed from the nearby Taipei Songshan Air Base on 6:50 a.m., the defense ministry said in a released statement.

The drill was meant to test combat readiness of the armed forces and response measures in case of emergency, ministry noted.

The Chinese-language Apple Daily said the drill was also meant to test the emergency evacuation and escape protocols to keep the president safe in the event of a national crisis. The R.O.C. president would be taken to a safe house on board a UH-60M Black Hawk.

Asked to comment, Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan did not directly confirm nor deny that the drill tested president's evacuation plans.

He said the exercise was part of an overall combat preparedness program and would be tested again during upcoming Han Kuang drill this May. The minister noted that the main mission of the exercise was to test their ability to land inside the compound. The choppers could also transport supplies and evacuate personnel in case of need, he added.

The ministry said it had chosen to conduct the drill in early hours to avoid affecting the taking off and landing of civilian aircraft at Taipei Songshan Airport and the activities of nearby schools and residents.

The Ministry of National Defense' new compound officially opened in December 2014 following 18 years of on-and-off construction.

The massive 19-hectare complex is close to other military facilities such as the Navy Headquarters Building, the Air Force Headquarters Building as well as the Heng Shan Military Command Center (衡山指揮所), making the area a new military park for the R.O.C.

Previously, the MND headquarters was located in downtown Taipei's Bo'ai District (博愛特區) near the Presidential Office.

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