Monkey Intrusion Causes Outage at Air Force Base in Taiwan

Photo: J. Michael Cole / TNLI
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Despite the security breach, military officials maintain that national security was never compromised.

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Never mind Chinese spies or saboteurs. All it took was a monkey with enough audacity to climb over several wire fences around Chiashan Air Force Base on the eastern coast of Hualien County on June 14. The adventure cost the agile simian his life — he got zapped after deciding that toying with a transformer box was a good idea. And then the power at the airbase went out for a full seven minutes. The lights also flickered at more than 9,600 households in the area.

Soon after discovering the charred remains of the intruder, officials restored power by switching on a secondary transformer at the northern end of the base. Huang Yu-chi (黃裕智), director of the Political Warfare Office at the base, said that equipment and national security were unaffected, and that all operations were normal.

Media report that the airbase is in negotiations with state-run Taiwan Power Co (Taipower) to erect higher fences to prevent future breaches.

Although the incident sparked fears that national security could so easily be compromised, officers at Chiashan maintain that the base is equipped with uninterruptible power supply and that national defense in no way was compromised.

Built in the late 80s and early 90s at a reported cost of US$27.2 billion, Chiashan AFB features a hollowed-out mountain that can provide shelter for as many as 200 aircraft — primarily the F-16s from the Hualien AFB nearby — during conventional missile or air strikes. It also features two 7,500-feet airfields. According to reports, Chiashan would also serve as a command post in time of war and in peacetime is used as training facility for the Air Education Training and Doctrine Development Command.

In 2014, photographs were released from China of what was reportedly a new Dong Feng-15C (DF-15C) “bunker buster” ballistic missile with a deep penetration warhead specifically designed to obliterate underground bases such as Chiashan.

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