Mon, Feb 14, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Ball in Taiwan’s camp on missile defense, analyst says

By J. Michael Cole  /  Staff Reporter

“How the international community would react to a ballistic missile attack on Taiwan depends largely on the events leading up to it. From a purely military perspective, however, no aircraft, ships, or PRC military personnel would be at hazard,” Ross wrote, adding that while Taiwan could retaliate with attacks on targets in China, such a response would be limited and the systems and bases Taiwan would use for such attacks would be among the primary targets of a ballistic missile strike by China.

Recent assessments by Taiwanese and US defense establishments put the number of short-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles China targets at Taiwan at about 1,900.

The key to ensuring minimum deterrence against a missile strike option, Ross wrote, was for missile defenses to be capable of intercepting a large percentage of incoming missiles.

Although many would likely get through, “the ability to intercept 40, 50, or even 60 percent of them would constitute a major deterrent, and should deterrence fail, it would greatly mitigate the effect of such an attack,” thus reducing Beijing’s ability to coerce Taipei and create panic among Taiwanese, he wrote.

Aside from the difficult choices involved in using finite — and expensive — missile defense systems to defend population centers, -government buildings and military installations, Taiwanese authorities will need to ensure that by about 2015, when all US deliveries are completed, its radar sites are fully integrated, which is not the case at present. Key radar systems, such as the long-range early warning Surveillance Radar Program (SRP), will also need better protection, as they would likely be among the first targets of a ballistic missile or anti-radiation missile attack, he wrote. A second SRP would provide the necessary redundancy in case of attack, though budget requests by former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration for two systems were limited to one.

The extent of the damage to Taiwan’s missile defense capabilities caused by General Lo Hsien-che (羅賢哲), who was arrested last month on suspicion of spying for China, has yet to be fully assessed, although it is believed that Beijing was seeking information about the Po Sheng (“Broad Victory”) program, which incorporates various radar sites involved in such defenses, including the Syun An C4.

“A robust Taiwan missile-defense system makes eminent military and political sense for Taiwan and for the United States. It contributes to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and strengthens Taipei’s hand as it strives to improve relations with Beijing,” Ross wrote.

“All that is necessary for Taiwan to achieve the systems full potential is for Taiwan to submit and for the United States to accept a Letter of Request (LOR) and approve a LOA for the complete integration of the Patriot, SRP, and Syun An C4 systems,” he wrote.

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