Mon, Jan 16, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Redefining Taiwan’s air defense

By Su Tzu-yun 蘇紫雲

In addition, Taiwan should change the traditional concept of air-force-to-air-force, navy-to-navy or army-to-army engagement. It could apply the “horse racing strategy” and use “slow horses” to compete against “fast horses,” that is, using cheaper mobile air-defense missiles to wear down the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force to allow Taiwan’s navy and air force to increase their combat power.

Meanwhile, from the perspective of military equipment investment cost-effectiveness, investing NT$30 billion (US$950 million) would allow Taiwan to build a Perry-class frigate or 18 F-16 Fighting Falcon warplanes, but the same money can be used to purchase 90 sets of medium-range anti-aircraft missile vehicles and 600 missiles — based on the surface-to-air TC2 Sky Sword II missile system — with high operational flexibility. Perhaps it would be possible to create better strategic value using an even better combination and adopt an asymmetric strategy that would give greater return at lower cost and make it possible to defeat a more powerful enemy.

Considering Taiwan’s defense resources, military science and technological development, as well as the air power strategy of European nations, thinking of Taiwan as an “unsinkable carrier” is a more viable model for the nation’s defense. As a strategic force, land-based medium-range mobile air defense units will provide the most cost-effective investment in Taiwan’s defense; they can quickly be raised, and can substantially offset China’s air superiority.

The regional security structures in East Asia or the first island chain will be reshuffled within the next 10 years due to the transformation of international security, China’s new projection capabilities, and leadership changes in the US and China. Taiwan’s resources are relatively limited. Therefore, it is necessary to apply new concepts to reform the national defense forces.

This would enable Taiwan to play a key role in regional affairs, ensure its own rights and interests, and maintain its voice in international affairs.

Su Tzu-yun is chief executive officer of Center for Advanced Technology at Tamkang University.

Translated by Lin Lee-kai

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