Saturday, September 19, 2009

Taiwan Shows 2 New Missiles at Ten-Ten Parade



Taiwan Shows 2 New Missiles at Ten-Ten Parade


TAIPEI — Taiwan’s military unveiled two indigenously designed and built missiles during an unusual, invitation-only National Day “Ten-Ten” parade at the Presidential Office Building on Oct. 10. It was the island’s first military parade since 1991 and will be the last officiated by President Chen Shui-bian, who will leave office in May after serving two terms.

Prior to the parade, Chen, of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, denounced China as a totalitarian state bent on destroying democracy in Taiwan and called for the removal of more than 900 short-range ballistic missiles, the Dong Feng (DF)-11 and DF-15, aimed at Taiwan.

“With China’s rapid rise and relentless military buildup, the China threat is no longer confined to confrontation across the Taiwan Strait. In fact, it has already seriously impacted world peace,” he said.

“Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China are two sovereign, independent nations, and neither exercises jurisdiction over the other,” he said. “Only the people of Taiwan have the right to decide their nation’s future.”

For the first time, the Hsiung Feng (HF)-3 (Brave Wind) anti-ship missile and the Tien Kung (TK)-3 (Sky Bow) anti-tactical ballistic missile (ATBM) were paraded past dignitaries and journalists.

The supersonic HF-3, with a range of 300 kilometers, has been under development by the military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology for more than 10 years. Plans are for deployment on frigates and mobile land-based launchers on the west coast.

The TK-3 ATBM system is similar to the U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC)-2 system but is not expected to be as effective against ballistic missiles and most likely will target Chinese cruise missiles and fighters. Plans are for the deployment of the missile around primary military targets and on offshore islands such as Penghu in the south and possibly Tungyin near Matsu in the north.

Both missiles will enter production within the next two years.

Plans to also unveil the HF-2E land attack cruise missile (LACM) were shelved due to fears of U.S. disapproval and Chinese anger. The HF-2E, also known as the Hsun Juen (Quick Falcon), has a range of 600-plus kilometers and will allow Taiwan for the first time to strike deep inside China. The missile is expected to be used for punitive strikes against China should Beijing decide to attack the island.

Tentative plans for the HF-2E call for building 24 mobile launcher systems and basing 48 missiles along the west coast and possibly on the outer islands of Penghu and Tungyin, which will bring Hong Kong and Shanghai within range.

However, sources said, the missiles will target military facilities such as airbases, naval facilities, command-and-control hubs and staging areas for troops.

Taipei’s decision to develop an LACM was driven partially by China’s improved air defense network, making Taipei’s fighter aircraft less able to penetrate and strike targets. The United States has refused to sell Taiwan munitions needed for its F-16s to perform ground-attack missions, such as Joint Direct Attack Munition kits and the AGM-88C High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile.

The parade also featured a variety of U.S.-built and indigenous missiles, including the PAC-2, Avenger anti-air missile launcher vehicle, Tien Chien-1 (Sky Sword) anti-air missile launcher vehicle and Tien Kung-1 anti-air missile.

The parade also displayed a full range of aircraft, including F-16s, Mirage 2000-5s, Indigenous Defense Fighters, E-2 Hawkeyes, CH-47SD Chinooks, UH-1Hs and AH-1W Cobras. Military vehicles included the new eight-wheeled CM-32 Clouded Leopard and U.S.-rebuilt AAVP7 armored personnel carriers.

The military also showed off its special forces units from the Marine Amphibious Reconnaissance Group and the Army Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion (Army Frogmen).

The United States switched diplomatic relations from Taiwan (Republic of China) to the People’s Republic of China in 1979 while Taiwan was still under martial law and ruled by the Kuomintang (KMT), which wielded total control over the nation. Now that Taiwan is a democracy, it has become increasingly difficult for the United States to ignore its call for better representation in international organizations, like the United Nations, and demands that China discontinue threats to start a war over Taipei’s moves to change the status quo.

During the Cold War, Taiwan was a valued U.S. ally in conflicts in Korea and Vietnam and was the location of several U.S. military bases. At one point, the U.S. military deployed nuclear weapons on the island as a warning to Beijing not to attack.

Many in Taiwan’s military have expressed feelings of abandonment by the United States, and there is an underlying sense of distrust among Taiwanese military officials of U.S. promises to defend the island against an attack from China.

One point of contention is the United States’ refusal to release the sale of 66 F-16s to replace Taiwan’s aging F-5 fighters. During the Cold War, the United States provided Taiwan with a wide assortment of advanced aircraft, including U-2 reconnaissance planes. But with the switch in diplomatic relations, Washington has been hesitant to provide Taipei with advanced weaponry.

Ten-Ten marks the 1911 revolution that overthrew the Qing dynasty and established the Republic of China. The KMT government escaped to Taiwan during the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949 and began a 40-year dictatorship of the small island. As the old KMT guard began dying off, and with pressure from Washington, Taiwan managed to establish the beginnings of a thriving democracy during the 1980s.