Tue, Oct 23, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Defense chief denies US Tomahawk missile story

BLACKOUT A military official confirmed that the ministry has developed graphite bombs that could be carried by missiles to paralyze power grids in China

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Minister of National Defense Lee Tien-yu (李天羽) yesterday denied reports that the US government was considering selling Tomahawk cruise missiles to Taiwan.

"I have never heard of such a plan," Lee said. "Tomahawk cruise missiles are fantastic. But, they [US government] never gave us such a message and we are not planning on it, either."

Lee's remarks came in response to a story in yesterday's Chinese-language China Times.

The alleged US sale is purported to be aimed at forcing Taiwan to abandon the NT$34.6 billion (US$1.06 billion) project to develop and mass produce Hsiung Feng-2E missiles, the daily claimed.

The Hsiung Feng-2E missile was not showcased during the military display on Double Ten National Day on Oct. 10 because, according to the ministry, it is still in the development stage.

During questioning from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁芳), Lee said that the US government still regards the Tomahawk cruise missile as an aggressive weapon and it has not yet sold it to any other country in the world.

He added sarcastically that he was "grateful" that a certain media outlet has "made such an excellent arrangement" for Taiwan's military to beef up its defense capability.

Meanwhile, a military official yesterday confirmed that the ministry has researched and developed graphite bombs but said it had never considered mass production of such a weapon.

"We did carry out some research and development work on graphite bombs. We did it because we wanted to realize how much damage it would cause if our enemy launched an attack. We do not have a production line for such weapons," said Vice Admiral Wu Wei-rong (吳偉榮), director-general of the Ministry of National Defense's Armaments Bureau.

Wu made the comments during yesterday morning's legislative National Defense Committee.

(KMT) Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) asked Wu about the military's plans for graphite bombs while holding a copy of the Chinese-language United Daily News.

The newspaper reported on Sunday that Taiwan was developing a non-lethal graphite bomb designed to disable China's power supplies.

It said that the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology -- the nation's top arms research unit -- will begin developing the submunitions at a cost of up to NT$500 million (US$15.34 million), starting next year.

The bombs work by sprinkling a cloud of chemically treated carbon fibers over power supplies, causing them to short-circuit, but without killing people.

Should war break out, the so-called "blackout bomb" would be carried by Hsiung Feng II-E cruise missiles to paralyze power grids in China's southeastern coastal cities.

Wu said these submunitions were used for the first time in May 1999 as part of Operation Allied Force strikes against Serbia. Following these attacks, lights went out over 70 percent of the country.

This story has been viewed 2966 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top