Mon, Mar 21, 2005 - Page 3 News List

PAC-3s will protect Taiwan, MND says

PROCUREMENT In a report released to the press, the national defense ministry claims that about 70 percent of Taiwan's population will be safe from a Chinese missile attack

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

With the procurement and deployment of three additional Patriot PAC-3 anti-missile batteries, 70 percent of Taiwan's population and 60 percent of its industrial facilities will be under the theater missile defense system's protection, according to a report released yesterday by the Ministry of National Defense (MND).

Minister of National Defense Lee Jye (李傑) handed a report about the procurement of the PAC-3 anti-missile batteries to the legislature last week, and will present it to legislators today.

A MND official who asked to remain anonymous released major portions of the report's text to local media yesterday.

The proposal said the procurement of the PAC-3 batteries is an efficient military investment.

The MND official said that according to the proposal, Taiwan has deployed 200 PAC-2 interceptors in northern Taiwan to protect the capital.

With the procurement of three additional PAC-3 batteries with 384 missiles, a total of 584 missiles will be deployed in northern, central and southern Taiwan, and major cities and military facilities of the west coast would be under the protective umbrella of the theater missile defense system, the report said.

The proposal said that 70 percent of Taiwan's population and 60 percent of its industrial facilities would be under the system's protection, the official said.

With the deployment of 584 interceptor missiles, Taiwan could survive a first strike from a People's Liberation Army (PLA) missile attack, the report said.

According to the report, the "highly agile hit-to-kill interceptor" has an 80 percent chance of intercepting an incoming ballistic missile, he added.

The proposal said that, although the US sold Japan and the Netherlands PAC-3 interceptors at the price of US$3.2 million per missile, it has proposed selling the missiles to Taiwan at the lower price of US$3.01 million per missile.

However, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Wen-chung (李文忠) said yesterday that while the MND has sought early approval of the PAC-3 budget by the legislature, the ministry is considering the possibility of transferring the procurement of the three PAC-3 missile batteries into next year's annual military budget.

Since the legislature has so far blocked the special arms budget, the ministry has made the procurement of eight diesel-powered submarines and 12 P-3C maritime patrol aircraft a priority, Lee added.

Meanwhile, a military expert questioned the effectiveness of the Patriot anti-missile system.

Lin Tsung-ta (林宗達), a senior editor of the Chinese-language monthly Defense International and an expert on the People's Liberation Army (PLA), said Taiwan needs to build a military with better offensive capabilities, instead of focusing purely on defensive weapons.

Lin said China currently had an arsenal of more than 700 short-range ballistic missiles on the coast opposite Taiwan.

He said that accordiong to the "two plus two theory," a defender must simultaneously launch four missiles -- two Theater High-Altitude Area Defense missiles and two Patriots -- for each incoming missile in order to have a 95 percent probability of intercepting it. To achieve that success rate, Taiwan would therefore need nearly 3,000 missiles to effectively counter China's short-range ballistic missile threat.

He said the 584 anti-missiles was far from the huge number of missiles Taiwan really needed, and that therefore Taiwan should focus on deterrent weapons instead.

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