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Australia Taiwan's air force band boosts morale, patriotism on the front line

10:11  08 december  2022
10:11  08 december  2022 Source:   reuters.com

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By Fabian Hamacher and Ann Wang

Chiang Chung-hao, 34, the lead singer of Taiwan's Air Force © Thomson Reuters Chiang Chung-hao, 34, the lead singer of Taiwan's Air Force "Tiger Band" gets ready for flight check at Chihhang Air Base in Taitung

TAITUNG, Taiwan (Reuters) - Taiwan's air force may be on the front lines of defending against China's daily incursions into the skies near the democratically governed island, but for downtime and to boost morale they have a secret weapon - their own band.

Started in 2018, the Taiwan air force's "Tiger Band" is made up of fighter pilots, ground crews and other personnel at the Chihhang air base in Taitung on Taiwan's mountainous and scenic east coast, singing soft rock ballads with an indigenous twist.

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Members of Taiwan's Air Force © Thomson Reuters Members of Taiwan's Air Force "Tiger Band" play during band practice at Chihhang Air Base in Taitung

Taiwan's military helped them produce a slick music video for their biggest hit to date, "Fly into the Sky". It has only had a modest 14,000 views on YouTube so far but has garnered many comments in support of Taiwan's armed forces.

"We are soldiers on the front line of attack, so we wanted to create this song to write our feelings towards this country and our will to defend our families into the lyrics," lead singer Chiang Chung-hao, 34, who trains fighter pilots, told Reuters at the base.

Hsu Shao-qiang, 29, makes eye contact with band member during practice at Chihhang Air Base in Taitung © Thomson Reuters Hsu Shao-qiang, 29, makes eye contact with band member during practice at Chihhang Air Base in Taitung

The band was founded by the senior officer in charge of training and operations, Chen Yan-zhi, who was looking for ways to let pilots and crew decompress from the stress of flying.

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"For them, this is a great way to unwind and relax and they emerge from the band room like new, as if all pressures fell off," he said.

The band is named after the U.S.-made F-5 Tiger fighters that are based at Chihhang and which first entered service in Taiwan in the 1970s. They are now used for training rather than combat.

China, which views Taiwan as its own territory, has stepped up military pressure to assert its sovereignty claims, including staging war games near the island in August.

Hsu Shao-qiang, 29, sings during band practice at Chihhang Air Base in Taitung © Thomson Reuters Hsu Shao-qiang, 29, sings during band practice at Chihhang Air Base in Taitung

Band member Kao Tzu-yu, 32, who was inspired to become a fighter pilot after seeing Taiwan's air force's acrobatic team the Thunder Tigers perform, trains new pilots by simulating enemy tactics.

Hsu Shao-qiang, 29, a member of the Taiwan's Air Force © Thomson Reuters Hsu Shao-qiang, 29, a member of the Taiwan's Air Force "Tiger Band" attends his morning duty at the Chihhang Air Base in Taitung

"Aside from our freedoms, the things that I fear losing the most are this piece of land and my beloved family," she told Reuters.

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(Reporting by Fabian Hamacher and Ann Wang; Writing by Ben Blanchard. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

Chiang Chung-hao, 34, the lead singer of Taiwan's Air Force © Thomson Reuters Chiang Chung-hao, 34, the lead singer of Taiwan's Air Force "Tiger Band" teaches students at Chihhang Air Base in Taitung Chiang Chung-hao, 34, the lead singer of Taiwan's Air Force © Thomson Reuters Chiang Chung-hao, 34, the lead singer of Taiwan's Air Force "Tiger Band" exercieses at the gym at Chihhang Air Base in Taitung

Taiwanese train for war after year of crises .
As tensions rise in the Taiwan Strait, private companies are stepping forward to prepare Taiwanese civilians for war.The planes quickly disappear behind the light cover of smog that often shrouds the horizon around Taiwan’s second-largest city. The fighter jets are heading towards the sea in the west where a group of Chinese military aircraft has penetrated the Taiwanese air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in the Taiwan Strait.

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