The air force will start construction work on a base which will house a long-range early warning radar system next year.
The system will be bought from the US, and the air force is planning to spend around NT$1.5 billion on the base during the first year, according to the 2004 proposed defense budget.
"The base is to be built on a mountain in northern Hsinchu County, where there are already several radar sites belonging to different armed services," said a military officer who declined to be identified. "The site was chosen because of its high altitude, which will enable the long-range radar to have an adequate view," added the officer.
The long-range early warning radar would apparently have a range of 3,000km, but it has been reported that the US might not want Taiwan to see that far.
The air force declined to comment on the issue. It also refused to reveal whether it has decided what sort of long-range radar it wants to buy.
The Raytheon company's AN/EPS-123 Pave Paws early warning radar system is generally believed to be what the air force wants.
Although the air force said it has not yet decided on the system, it is possible that a decision has been made, since it is unlikely that construction would be planned for next year without a radar system in mind.
In the 2004 proposed defense budget being reviewed by the legislature, NT$1.5 billion has been allocated to construction of the long-range radar site.
The budget proposal does not specify what sort of radar the air force is to buy.
The NT$1.5 billion is the first sum of money that the air force is to spend on the building of the long-range radar system.
The US approved the sale of the early warning radar system to Taiwan in 2000, but the Ministry of National Defense has been slow in deciding to buy the system, arousing some complaints from the US, according to reports by the Chinese-language Liberty Times.
The Minister of National Defense, Tang Yao-ming (
The long-range radar would be able to detect ballistic missiles launched from China, increasing Taiwan's early warning time by around seven minutes.
Chang Li-teh (
"With the Pave Paws, the military might consider developing anti-satellite weapons. Such weapons do not need to be bought from abroad. Certain domestically built weapons being used by the military have the potential to be turned into satellite killers," Chang said.
But Chang was only making a suggestion, since there is no information to show that the military considers developing anti-satellite weapons.
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