The Ministry of National Defense (MND) on Wednesday said it would gradually reduce dependence on the US for the maintenance of its Patriot missiles in order to cut costs and improve efficiency.
The military plans to gradually move toward domestic maintenance of its Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC) missiles, as it did with its Hawk missile components, Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) said at a legislative hearing on the country’s defense budget.
He said that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the US, Washington has strengthened its homeland security, which makes it troublesome to ship weapons back to Taiwan after maintenance.
The minister was responding to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), who noted that NT$230 million (US$7.85 million) had been allocated this year to send Taiwan’s aging PAC missiles to the US for maintenance.
Lin said some components of the PAC missile system would soon reach the end of their 15-year life cycle and he suggested that the ministry look into doing some of the maintenance on the missiles at home to reduce costs.
The lawmaker also raised the issue of the Sparrow missiles which misfired during a military exercise last year.
The US Air Force has asked Taiwan to stop using Sparrow missiles in live-fire military exercises since the solid-propellant rocket motors have reached the end of their life cycle, Lin said.
In response, Lieutenant General Chen Tien-sheng (陳添勝) said the ministry would make a decision based on a report being prepared by the US authorities, which is expected to be released in January after they complete their evaluation of Taiwan’s nearly 500 Sparrow missiles.
Kao said the military would use its surface-to-air Standard Missile-2 in a live-fire exercise scheduled for the second half of next year.