Paper: Taiwan’s C4ISR Still Needs Improvement
By WENDELL MINNICK
TAIPEI — Taiwan must continue improving its C4ISR capabilities if it is to survive a war with China, a new paper warns.
The island must build on the foundation laid by the nine-yearold Po Sheng (Broad Victory) C4I program, which has created a tactical network based on the U.S. Link-16 and the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS), according to “Revolutionizing Taiwan’s Security: Leveraging C4ISR for Traditional and Non-Traditional Challenges,” issued Feb. 19 by the Project 2049 Institute in Washington.
The paper’s recommendations include improvements in anti-submarine warfare; maritime domain awareness; voice communication; and dual-use space systems, including electro-optical, synthetic aperture radar and broadband communication satellites.
Budget pressures forced Taiwan to cut one-third of the original $3.5 billion Po Sheng plan. As it stands, only 60 of Taiwan’s 146 F-16A/Bs have Link-16 Multifunctional Information Distribution SystemLow Volume Terminals and none of the Mirage fighters have them, thanks to an “inability to obtain French cooperation in the integration effort,” said Fu Mei, director of the Taiwan Security Analysis Center.
Fu said the Navy has installed the Link-16 terminals on two of its eight PFG-2 Perry-class frigates and three of six La Fayette-class frigates.
The U.S. arms package proposed in January includes 34 terminals for the Air Force and 24 for the Navy.
“These should steadily and significantly improve the situational awareness and jointness of Taiwan’s air and naval forces,” Fu said.
Moreover, Link-16 terminals, displays and command interfaces have already been installed in the Combined Operations Center and the services’ major command centers.
“Po Sheng basically followed a building block strategy so that more platforms can easily be added to the infrastructure,” Fu said.
But other vital C4ISR gear was never part of the effort, wrote Mark Stokes, the author of the Project 2049 report.
“The Po Sheng program has not included intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities,” such as UAVs, radar systems, signals intelligence systems and space-based sensors, wrote Stokes, a former senior country director for Taiwan in the U.S. Department of Defense.
Taiwan’s military has no operational UAVs; the military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology is expected to ready one for service next year.
Taiwan has spent large chunks of money on survivable early warning, air surveillance, and command and control. For example, it is building an $800 million long-range phasedarray UHF early warning radar in central Taiwan to track Chinese aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, and satellites. But it would not long survive a full-scale Chinese attack, so Taiwan is also buying other surveillance assets, including new Land S-band radars.
Along those lines, Stokes wrote, Taiwan should also buy passive ground-based sensors to augment conventional UHF, L-, S- and Xband radars that “may be vulnerable to jamming or physical destruction” by Chinese anti-radiation missiles and jammers.
Taiwan should also consider “wide area surveillance that is capable of cooperative and non-cooperative tracking and detection in all domains,” especially “over-thehorizon radar systems, an undersea surveillance system, and mobile undersea sensors [that] offer significant capabilities for all-hazards defense.” Stokes said the undersea system could include small sensor-carrying submarines that could discreetly monitor line-of-sight transmissions.
“Their stealth and ability to maintain on station for long periods of time can often foil an adversary’s attempt to deny or deceive intelligence collection efforts,” Stokes said.
Gary Schmitt, an intelligence specialist at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, said, “modern warfare requires a sophisticated ‘central nervous system’ to operate effectively, but Taiwan’s C4ISR is not nearly as sophisticated or redundant as it needs to be, especially in the face of known [People’s Liberation Army] plans to attack it.”
Stokes said that in a war, China might use electronic warfare to target leadership and operationallevel communications. China wants to be able to disrupt advanced tactical data links, Chinese technical writings show.
“In addition, false communications networks would be launched to imitate real ones in an attempt to deceive Taiwan and U.S. intelligence assets,” Stokes wrote.
“China’s most respected advocates of information warfare” are pushing to develop “more exotic forms of electronic warfare,” such as microwave devices and other electromagnetic pulse weapons that could disrupt not just Taiwanese but U.S. military communications and sensors, Stokes said.