Nation's defenses strengthened with new US missiles


Thu, Sep 23, 2004 - Page 2

Taiwan has taken delivery of 200 US AIM-120 missiles to boost defenses against China, a Chinese-language newspaper reported yesterday.

"The AIM-120 missiles are stored at the Hualien airbase in eastern Taiwan and at the Chiayi airbase in southwestern Taiwan. The missile made its debut at the Hualien airbase on Tuesday when two F-16 jets, each fitted with two AIM-120s, conducted a training flight over the Pacific Ocean," the paper said.

The paper printed a photo of an F-16 fitted with two AIM-120s and a photo of an AIM-120 missile.

Taiwan asked to buy AIM-120 missiles for installation on the Air Force's 150 F-16s to counter a threat posed by China's Sukhoi-30 warplanes, which carry Russian AA-12 missiles.

Like the AA-12, the AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles are active-radar-guided, with a maximum range of 50km.

The US approved the sale of 200 AIM-120 missiles to Taiwan in 2000. To avoid angering China, Washington decided it would not deliver the missiles until Taiwan faced a military threat.

"After the Chinese Air Force test-fired AA-12 missiles in June last year, the US agreed to deliver the AIM-120 missiles to Taiwan," the paper said.

Taiwanese airmen test-fired the AIM-120 missiles in the US at the end of last year, it said.