Army, air force to get asymmetric warfare weapons

By Lo Tien-pin and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Tue, Jun 26, 2018 - Page 1

The Ministry of National Defense is to obtain three asymmetric warfare weapons for the army and air force, in addition to the navy’s ongoing program to develop small fast-attack missile boats, an anonymous senior defense official said.

The army is to be given medium-range anti-tank missiles and a ground mobile minelayer system, and the air force is to be given a new gun-based close-in weapons system, the official said.

The ministry favors buying the equipment from domestic sources whenever possible and would consider buying from foreign suppliers only if local firms are unable to produce the weapons, the official said.

The consultation period with domestic industries began earlier this month and the Ministry of Economic Affairs has begun a feasibility study of the nation’s capability to manufacture the weapons, they said.

The ministry is pressing forward with the fast-attack missile boat program, despite misgivings among members of the military and the shipbuilding sector, the official said.

The army needs anti-tank missiles and the minelayer system to combat enemy armor in anti-amphibious operations, the official said.

The air force’s request for a close-in weapons system was prompted by the rising threat of Chinese air and naval forces, which have been conducting exercises at the edges of Taiwan’s airspace, they said.

The close-in weapons system would protect installations on Taiwan’s east coast, particularly the Chiashan Base’s (佳山) underground complex in Hualien County, the official said.

A mission requirement for the minelayers, that they be capable of laying mines on Taiwan proper as well as Kinmen and Matsu, has sparked concerns from some ministry officials, sources said.

The officials have said that as the military has just completed clearing Kinmen and Matsu of landmines, procuring another minelaying system with such a mission requirement could alarm the public, the sources said.

Military procurements are determined by operational needs, ministry spokesman Major General Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) said.

The minelayers would lay anti-tank mines, which comply with international conventions, not anti-personnel mines, Chen said.

Their operational role would involve laying mines on the likely approach routes of enemy armor units as battles develop, not emplacing semi-permanent minefields, he said.

In related news, the Taiwan Shipbuilding Industry Association yesterday began hosting a two-day media tour for major shipbuilders and defense industry firms involved in the manufacture of machinery, bullet-proof materials, and assault boats and helicopter maintenance.

Ko Lead Aerospace Co (科力航太), Jong Shyn Shipbuilding Co (中信造船), Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, HCG Corp (和成集團) and Champion Auto Co (金賓汽車) are among the industries participating in the event.