Defense ministry denies report it had launched a Patriot missile test

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Sep 28, 2013 - Page 4

The Ministry of National Defense denied a newspaper report yesterday and said that it has never tested US-made Patriot III anti-missile systems in Taiwan.

The Liberty Times, the Taipei Times’ sister paper, cited unnamed “high-ranking military personnel” as saying that Taiwan had conducted an unprecedented test last week from a base in Pingtung — a major development because the US does not currently allow testing of the system outside of its borders.

The defense ministry denied the report in a morning statement, calling it “untrue.”

The ministry said that a contract recently signed with the American Institute in Taiwan — the de facto US embassy in the absence of formal ties — covers maintenance and follow-up services and has nothing to do with test firing.

The Liberty Times report said that the military had neither confirmed nor denied the contents of the NT$1.358 billion (US$46 million) contract, signed on Aug. 28.

A report in the same newspaper earlier this month said that Taiwan has purchased six Patriot III systems from the US and upgraded three older Patriot II missile systems.

The terms of the purchase require Taiwan to receive US permission before conducting tests, though reports say the US refuses to grant such permission on fears that data from the test will be leaked to China.