Taiwan is expected to extend its defensive perimeter to a range of 300km to 500km by 2025, when its first indigenous submarine and longer-range missiles from the US are set to be in service, a government-funded think tank said.
The assessment was made in a paper published on the Web site of the Institute for National Defense and Security Research on Thursday.
The paper, written by Ou Si-fu (歐錫富), a research fellow at the institute, said the US’ sale of 11 sets of M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers to Taiwan in October last year was one of the factors that would allow Taiwan to expand its defensive perimeter.
The HIMARS, a multiple launch rocket system mounted on a military truck, is mobile and has a strike distance of 300km when carrying M57 Army Tactical Missile Systems, the report said.
“Theoretically, the HIMARS can provide fire support to military units in Taiwan and on the outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu,” the report said.
It could suppress military gatherings in China’ coastal areas and hit military targets in China when deployed in Penghu County, the report said.
The deployment of the HIMARS would enable Taiwan to strike the enemy from right where it launched an attack, the report said.
Taiwan’s indigenous Thunderbolt-2000 multiple launch rocket system has a striking distance of 45km and can only be used to repel enemy amphibious vehicles and landing troops near Taiwan’s shore.
Another factor that would contribute to a wider defensive perimeter is Taiwan’s purchase of 400 Harpoon missiles from the US, which are to be delivered starting next year, the report said.
They would be added to a supply of 850 acquired since 1997, which can be launched from the air, sea or land, the report said.
The Harpoon missiles would be augmented by Taiwan’s 300 locally made Hsiung Feng anti-ship missiles and another 50 that would be ready by 2023, the report said, adding that one of the variants, the Hsiung Feng II, has a maximum range of 250km.
For its underwater defense, Taiwan plans to commission its first indigenous submarine by 2025, gradually replacing its four aged submarines, the report said.
The navy obviously plans to use the submarines on anti-ship missions, targeting China’s troop-transport and supply ships, it said.
The sophisticated underwater environment around Taiwan gives its military an edge, as China does not have strong anti-submarine warfare capabilities, despite its large number of sea assets and anti-submarine aircraft, the report said.
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