Saturday, September 26, 2009

Taiwan May Upgrade Patriots



Taiwan May Upgrade Patriots


The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced Nov. 13 the possible sale of an upgrade to Taiwan’s Patriot PAC-2 Plus missile defense system. The upgrade is for Taiwan’s three fire units that encircle Taipei.

The fire units will get new long- and short-range radios, radar enhancements, target identification and remote launching systems, four telemetry kits for live-firing training and electric power plants. The upgrade will allow the units to fire PAC-3 missiles in the future, but no upgrade will be made to Taiwan’s current inventory of Patriot-2 missiles.

“The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance and economic progress in the region,” a DSCA statement said.

China has more than 900 short-range ballistic missiles, the Dong Feng 11 and DF-15, aimed at Taiwan. The small island nation of 23 million people has no offensive missiles aimed at China and limited missile interceptor capability.

However, Taiwan is preparing to begin mass production of a new tactical missile interceptor dubbed the Tien Kung 3 (Sky Bow). The Sky Bow missile family is modeled after the Patriot series but lacks proven combat experience.

Raytheon will perform the estimated $939 million upgrade. Raytheon officials declined to comment on the sale at the Nov. 11-15 Dubai Air Show. However, a Raytheon source said the company has been anxious to get Taiwan to approve the budget for new Patriot PAC-3s released by U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration in 2001, but political opposition in Taiwan has effectively killed the sale.

China has officially criticized the upgrade approval. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said the upgrade violated U.S. promises to gradually reduce weapon sales to Taiwan since the U.S. switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. Liu called the sale “rude interference in China’s internal affairs.”

However, the U.S. Taiwan Relations Act allows for arms sales to Taiwan and the U.S. Congress has actively supported Taiwan over the years.

In September, the DSCA announced a $2.2 billion sale for 12 P-3C Orion anti-submarine aircraft and additional SM-2 anti-aircraft missiles to be outfitted on four new Kidd-class destroyers.