Taiwan’s military could deploy surface-to-surface missiles on the Penghu Islands as part of efforts to mount a more credible deterrent capability against China, budgetary documents submitted earlier this month say.
According to the documents, the Ministry of National Defense’s Missile Command would deploy three missile squadrons at a fixed base on Penghu as part of a NT$2.5 billion (US$84.8 million) “Ji Zhun” (戟隼) plan for the acquisition of Hsiung Feng IIE (HF-2E) land attack cruise missiles. Part of the budget would reportedly be set aside for the construction of bunkers with dehumidifying systems to store the missiles.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in 2008 gave the go-ahead for the production of 300 HF-2Es. The missile, developed by the Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, was approved for full production earlier this year.
Photo: Military News Agency via CNA
The HF-2E can be fired from land-based emplacements as well as surface vessels. With an estimated range of 600km, the HF-2E brings some ports in southern China within range, which would now be extended by being deployed on Penghu, located in the middle of the Taiwan Strait.
HF-2Es have been spotted on naval vessels anchored at Penghu’s Makung (馬公) and Tien Kung II surface-to-air missiles are deployed there.
Stating standard procedure on military deployments, a Ministry of National Defense spokesman yesterday would not comment on the report, which first appeared in the Chinese-language United Daily News on Wednesday last week.
The amount of money to be spent on indigenous defense programs next year is the highest since 2000, reflecting growing fears within the military of a possible scaling back of arms sales to Taiwan by the US.
According to a Defense News article on Monday, new development programs could include an anti-radiation unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), a graphite bomb, an electromagnetic pulse weapon, a hypersonic vehicle testing capability, a long-range UAV, ship stealth technology and a catamaran-hulled ship.
A US-based defense analyst told the Taipei Times that insecurity stemming from perceived diminishing US support could spark Taiwan to adopt “more radical solutions,” such as the deployment of offensive missiles like the HF-2E.
“Given China’s increasingly formidable air defenses, using fixed wing air assets, such as F-5s or F-16s, to strike mainland targets has become increasingly costly. Therefore, investments in systems, such as the HF-2E, could be viewed as necessary to maintain a limited retaliation capability,” the analyst said.
US policy has long denied Taiwan efforts to acquire air-launched weapons considered offensive, such as Joint Direct Attack Munitions and AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles. The US Department of State has also repeatedly blocked, under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), attempts by Taiwan to acquire components that would help it extend the range and yield of its missiles.
“The State Department is the keeper of the MTCR and ‘defensive weapons’ flame of the Taiwan Relations Act,” Rick Fisher, a senior fellow on Asian military affairs at the Washington-based International Assessment and Strategy Center, told the Taipei Times last week. “Absent a White House level of policy change, the US is not going to offer any leadership in this direction.”
The first analyst said there seemed to be some inconsistencies in Washington’s strict adherence to the MTCR when it comes to Taiwan.
“I don’t see much complaining about China developing and fielding missile systems able to strike targets on Taiwan and throughout the region,” he said.
A bilateral relations fact sheet on Taiwan-US relations published on the US Department of State Web site was recently updated to remove statements saying that it acknowledged Beijing’s “one China” position, and that the US does not support Taiwanese independence. The fact sheet is produced by the department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. A previous version of the document opened with the statement: “The United States and Taiwan enjoy a robust unofficial relationship.” It said the US acknowledged “the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China,” and said that the US “does
INDIRECT MESSAGE? Chinese planes might have entered Taiwan’s ADIZ to take part in drills with a carrier group that was about 500km off the east coast, an analyst said The Chinese military yesterday said it had conducted live-fire drills in waters and airspace off Taiwan’s eastern and southwestern coasts from Friday to Sunday to test and upgrade its joint combat capabilities. The Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) posted the news on Chinese messaging platform WeChat. Over the past few days, authorities in Taiwan and Japan have observed deployments of Chinese planes and ships near Taiwan from a PLA carrier group of five destroyers, a frigate and a resupply ship led by the Liaoning aircraft carrier. The Japanese Ministry of Defense first announced on Monday last week that
China appears to have built mockups of a port in northeastern Taiwan and a military vessel docked there, with the aim of using them as targets to test its ballistic missiles, a retired naval officer said yesterday. Lu Li-shih (呂禮詩), a former lieutenant commander in Taiwan’s navy, wrote on Facebook that satellite images appeared to show simulated targets in a desert in China’s Xinjiang region that resemble the Suao naval base in Yilan County and a Kidd-class destroyer that usually docks there. Lu said he compared the mockup port to US naval bases in Yokosuka and Sasebo, Japan, and in Subic Bay
Police are investigating the death of a Formosan black bear discovered on Tuesday buried near an industrial road in Nantou County, with initial evidence indicating that it was shot accidentally by a hunter. The bear had been caught in wildlife traps at least five times before, three times since 2020. Codenamed No. 711, the bear received extensive media coverage last year after it was discovered trapped twice in less than two months in the Taichung mountains. After its most recent ensnarement last month, the bear was released in the Dandashan (丹大山) area in Nantou County’s Sinyi Township (信義). However, officials became concerned after the