Mon, Jan 15, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Legislators, analysts pan missile boat plan

By Aaron Tu and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Plans by the Ministry of National Defense (MND) to purchase 60 45-tonne missile boats to bolster anti-ship missile coverage and increase missile deployment mobility might be too idealistic and require reconsideration, legislators and defense analysts said on Wednesday last week.

The attack boats might be too light to offer a stable platform for the Hsiung Feng II anti-ship missiles, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) said.

The small size of the ships would bar the possibility of installing anything but the most basic of radar systems, if their installation were even possible, which would greatly affect missile capability, Tsai said.

While the ministry’s assessments determined that the attack boats would be able to conduct missions in conditions up to level 5 winds on the Beaufort scale, wind speeds and waves during the winter often exceed level 5, Tsai said, adding that the proposed missile boats would be largely limited by such factors.

The Kuang Hua VI fast-attack missile boat serves the same purpose and acts as a more stable platform for launching missiles, Tsai said.

The ministry might want to revise its thinking about the viability of its proposal, Tsai said.

While the ministry should be applauded for seeking to make breakthroughs in asymmetrical warfare tactics, 45 tonnes is simply too light for a missile attack boat, Asia-Pacific Defense Magazine editor-in-chief Kevin Cheng (鄭繼文) said.

The ships could not provide the fire control and radar capacity required for such a platform, Cheng said.

The ships would simply become mobile missile platforms dependent on land-based radar guidance, Chen said, but added that were hostilities to break out across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwanese radar systems would undoubtedly be priority targets.

With its radars down, Taiwan’s traffic control and reconnaissance would be paralyzed, Cheng said, questioning whether the patrol boats’ intended wolf pack tactics would remain viable.

The ministry pursued similar tactics in 1980 when it created the Hai Ou missile boat — the Kuang Hua VI’s predecessor — Cheng said, adding that the Hai Ou was incapable of operating during the winter with winds greater than level 5.

China is also looking into asymmetrical warfare and plans to counter the nation’s wolf pack tactics with swarm tactics that use large fleets of uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs), Cheng said.

Whether Taiwanese wolf packs could perform surface guerilla warfare under bombardments by Chinese UAVs is unknown, he said.

The ministry might wish to consider laying mines, Cheng said, adding that they cost less and that China has relatively weak mine-sweeping and mine-hunting capabilities.

If Taiwan could successfully negotiate obtaining key technologies, such as combat systems, it would be one step closer to achieving its indigenous submarine project, Cheng added.

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