Ministry says US blocking live-fire tests of missiles

SIMULATION::The US military has offered to provide Taiwan all the data on the weapons system’s live tests in the US, but Taipei officials said it was not the same

By Lo Tien-pin and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Tue, Sep 03, 2013 - Page 3

The US military has continually rejected Taipei’s request to conduct live-fire testing of the PAC-3 missile system in Taiwan on the grounds that they might give China an opportunity to gather critical data on the system, the Ministry of National Defense said in its 2014 budget report, which was recently sent to the Legislative Yuan for review.

The Legislative Yuan had decided when reviewing this year’s budget that the ministry should make plans for the live-fire testing of both the Patriot missile system and the SM-1 surface-to-air missile both within and outside the nation’s borders.

Senior military officials said in the report that the US military’s rejection of the ministry’s requests was not only due to international political concerns, but also the worry that China would be able to obtain digital data on the system’s performance.

If that happens, it could pose a serious breach to the security of the US’ missile defense network across Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, the officials said.

Nonetheless, the ministry would continue its efforts to get the green light from the US on live-fire weapons system testing in Taiwan.

Despite the US military’s offer to give the ministry all the statistics on the weapons system’s live-fire testing in the US and enable the ministry to simulate training, the officials said that it was not the same.

“The environment here in Taiwan is different from that in the US. It is better to have first-hand experience and data by conducting live-fire exercises in Taiwan,” the officials said.

Meanwhile, the ministry also said that it has started planning for the live firing of the RIM-66 missile, which would be carried out on Sept. 23 and Sept. 24 east of Taiwan by the Navy.

Given the SM-1’s range of 74km to 170km, Japan has expressed concern that the firing radius would encircle the northern, western and southern border of Yonaguni, one of the Yaeyama Islands.