All medium and long-range air defense missile units of the air force will be merged into a single unit under General Staff Headquarters, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday.
With Missile Command and its air defense units coming under the direct control of the ministry, reaction time will be quicker as the chain of command is shortened, which meets the requirements for air defense security, the ministry said.
Missile defense units, including the Patriot, Tien Kung and Hawk batteries, will be placed under Missile Command as of Thursday, the ministry said.
The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) reported that Lieutenant General Liao Jung-hsing (廖榮鑫) would become the head of Missile Command.
This will be the first major change to the nation’s air defense operations command structure since 2006, when various missile battalions were shifted to the air force’s air-defense artillery general headquarters, which is now the air-defense artillery command.
Following Thursday’s move, Oerlikon anti-aircraft artillery systems and the vehicle-mounted Tien Chien 1 missiles will form the backbone of the air force’s short-range air-defense capabilities.
The newspaper quoted an anonymous official as saying that the security situation in the Taiwan Strait had been dynamic in recent years.
Although the number of Chinese missiles targeting Taiwan — more than 1,000 — has not increased as dramatically as before, their accuracy and capabilities have increased, the official said.
While the cross-strait situation seems stable at present, the military threat from China has become more serious, the official said.
The military’s missile and anti-missile capabilities have improved in recent years, the official said.
In addition to procurement of Patriot-3 missiles from the US and deployment of the Tien Kung III missile, the Hsiung Feng IIE surface-to-surface cruise missile, which can hit targets in certain parts of China, has also been deployed.
The report said that one of the priorities for Taiwan’s military was to procure 600km to 800km-range cruise missiles like the Hsiung Feng IIE, which is similar to the US-made Tomahawk cruise missile.
The military plans to produce 245 Hsiung Feng IIEs, the report said.
Additional reporting by staff writer