AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
TAIPEI: Taiwan’s defence ministry said today it has formed a special airborne unit capable of scrambling to the contested Spratly islands in just hours, as tensions in the South China Sea mounted. The unit has been set up under a plan named “airborne fast response and maritime support” which was unveiled for the first time in a report by the ministry to parliament, officials said.
No details of the unit were released to the public, but local media said if needed, it can arrive on Taiping Island, the biggest in the disputed waters, onboard C-130 transport planes within four hours. Despite protests from other countries with claims in the area, Taiwan in 2006 built a 1,150-metre runway on the island, which is 1,376 km from Taiwan.