Sat, Sep 01, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Government insists nation’s defenses still a priority in new planned budget

NUMBERS GAME:More than 16 percent of the central government spending program has been allocated for weapons, including NT$55 billion for US-made hardware

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Despite a slight decline in defense spending for next year, the draft budget shows the determination of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration to develop homemade weapons systems, a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmaker said yesterday.

KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) offered his analysis of the draft defense budget statement delivered to the legislature yesterday for review in the upcoming legislature session, which is scheduled to open on Sept. 18.

The draft budget signals a new era of development of the nation’s homemade counterforce weapons systems, showing that the Ma administration has not slackened in enhancing the nation’s self-defense capabilities when pursuing cross-strait rapprochement, Lin said.

NT$2.5 billion (US$83.6 million) has been earmarked for the mass production of the indigenous Hsiung Feng-IIE (HF-2E) missile and the draft budget sees a 30 percent increase in next year’s spending, Lin said.

The statement showed that the government has allocated a budget of NT$35.9 billion for the next 12 years beginning next year as part of a plan to build six mine-hunting ships, which are to help Taiwan boost its anti-blockade capabilities for its naval forces, Lin said.

According to the budget, Lin said, the nation is set to spend NT$230 million integrating systems for the domestically-produced air-to-surface missile, dubbed “Wan Chien,” and of the capability-enhancement program of the Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF), or Ching-kuo fighters, next year, earlier than originally planned.

The production of Wan Chien missiles, designed to arm Ching Kuo fighters and which can be launched at stand-off ranges to strike Chinese targets, are slated for 2014.

Lin said that each Wan Chien missile is believed to contain more than 100 explosive warheads that will be able to crater airports and runways or disable port facilities along the southeastern coast of China.

About NT$700 million was allocated in next year’s budget for naval forces to continue building the first offshore patrol ship that can carry eight Hsiung Feng III supersonic anti-ship missiles and eight Hsiung Feng-II supersonic anti-ship missiles, he said.

The budget showed Taiwan is set to spend about NT$55 billion in arms procurements from the US next year, including purchases of AH-64D attack helicopters, UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles along with Patriot PAC-2 enhancements and F-16A/B fighter upgrades, Lin said.

Lin said the budget for US defense purchases accounted for 66 percent of the total spending of NT$81.5 billion written up for military investment projects next year.

The government has allocated NT$314.5 billion, or 16.17 percent of the central government’s budget, in defense spending for next year, a decline of NT$2.7 billion compared with this year.

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