2 killed in Taiwan copter crash during drills against 'China assaults'

Apache helicopters (right) releasing flares during an exercise by Taiwan's military in Taichung yesterday. Smoke rising (left) from the scene of a crash at an air force base in Hsinchu. The incident involving a Bell 0H-58D helicopter killed its pilot
Apache helicopters (right) releasing flares during an exercise by Taiwan's military in Taichung yesterday. Smoke rising (left) from the scene of a crash at an air force base in Hsinchu. The incident involving a Bell 0H-58D helicopter killed its pilot and co-pilot. PHOTOS: BLOOMBERG, SETN/YOUTUBE

TAICHUNG (Taiwan) • Two crew members were killed in a helicopter crash yesterday as Taiwan's military held drills across the island - including one simulating coastal assaults from China.

The climax of the five-day exercise yesterday aimed to test how democratic Taiwan's armed forces would repel an invasion from its giant neighbour.

Beijing regards Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed eventual reunification - by force if necessary.

The main simulation saw Taiwan fighter jets, warships and ground troops repelling an enemy attempt to land on a beach in the central city of Taichung in an operation involving some 8,000 service members.

The military said a Bell 0H-58D helicopter crashed as it was returning to Hsinchu airbase from one of the drills, killing the pilot and co-pilot.

Taipei has lived with the threat of invasion by China since the two sides split in 1949 after a civil war.

In recent decades, it has found itself increasingly outnumbered and outgunned by China's enormous People's Liberation Army.

China's increasingly muscular approach towards the island has also sparked renewed cooperation by other governments with Taiwan.

Under President Donald Trump, the United States has become far more willing to sell big-ticket items, including F-16 fighter jets and other hardware, to Taiwan.

Earlier this week, Beijing vowed to impose sanctions on American defence company Lockheed Martin in response to Washington agreeing to upgrade Taiwan's Patriot missile systems. France, too, has angered Beijing by agreeing to upgrade the missile interference systems on frigates that Taiwan purchased in the 1990s.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2020, with the headline '2 killed in Taiwan copter crash during drills against 'China assaults''. Subscribe