Tue, Mar 22, 2005 - Page 3 News List

High success rate claimed for Patriots

SIMULATION While admitting that Patriot missiles would be useless against medium-range missiles, officials said they were 85% successful in intercepting cruise missiles

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday claimed that Patriot missiles have an 85 percent of chance of intercepting China's People Liberation Army's (PLA) cruise missiles, which are seen as a greater threat than the PLA's ballistic missiles.

MND Integrated Assessment Office Director-General Abe Lin (林勤經) said in the legislature that his claim was based on a computer simulation run by his office. According to the simulation also found that Patriot missiles have a slightly lower (83 percent) chance of hitting the PLA's short-range ballistic missiles.

According to Lin, the computer simulation consisted of four scenarios. The first scenario presumed that the PLA used either 10, 20, and 30 M9 or M11 short-range ballistic missiles launched from several bases in China to target one installation such as a radar base.

In the second scenario, the PLA used 10, 20 or 30 missiles to hit an area such as an airport.

The third scenario had the PLA launching 10, 20 or 30 cruise missiles from bases, fighter jets, ships or submarines to target an area such as an airport.

The final scenario was that 12 PLA cruise missiles were fired and traveled along the Tamsui River, targeting a business or political objective in Taipei.

He said the computer simulation used two Patriot missiles to intercept each incoming PLA missile, with PLA cruise missiles travelling at an altitude of 150m to 200m.

Lin said the office spent nine days running each of the four scenarios some 10,000 times, and then analyzed results.

He said that Taiwan's simulation showed a slightly lower interception rate for the Patriot than that claimed by the US military.

He said the computer simulations were based on a worst-case scenario in which the PLA is able to launch SLCMs (submarine-launched cruise missiles) and multiple-warhead ballistic missiles, which are difficult to intercept.

Lin suggested that to hit cruise missiles, Taiwan needs an advanced radar and satellite system to guide its Patriot missiles. But he declined to comment on whether Taiwan is linking up with foreign countries' anti-missile radar and satellite networks.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Shuai Hua-ming (帥化民), a retired lieutenant general, told MND officials that he did not believe PAC-3 missiles would be able to intercept the PLA's cruise missiles because of their very low altitude and tricky flight path.

People First Party (PFP) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) asked MND officials whether Patriot missiles are able to intercept the PLA's medium-range ballistic missiles, such as the Dongfeng-21 or Dongfeng-25, in addition to intercepting short-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.

In response, MND Vice Minister Hou Shou-yeh (霍守業) admitted the PAC-3 missile has little ability to intercept such mid-range missiles.

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), yesterday said that the result of the MND computer simulation was meaningless, because the MND assumed that the PLA was using an older type of cruise missile to attack Taiwan.

He said the MND simulation presumed PLA cruise missiles traveling at a height between 150m to 200m, but that the PLA currently has 200 advanced cruise missiles that can fly below an altitude of 30m.

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