Sunday, September 25, 2011

U.S. Congress Pushes for Taiwan F-16s With TAMA

Defense News


U.S. Congress Pushes for Taiwan F-16s With TAMA


TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taiwan supporters in the U.S. Congress have introduced new legislation designed to push President Obama to release new F-16 fighter aircraft to Taiwan.

U.S. Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., introduced the Taiwan Airpower Modernization Act (TAMA) on Sept. 12 for congressional review. The new act is an effort to force the Obama administration to adhere to "obligations" under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act "to provide Taiwan with the military equipment it needs to maintain its self-defense capabilities," said a press release issued by the two senators.

The new legislation is the latest salvo from Taiwan supporters in Congress who are pushing Obama to release an $8-billion deal for 66 F-16C/D Block 50/52 fighter aircraft. On Aug. 1, 181 bipartisan U.S. House members sent a letter to Obama urging him to release F-16s. On May 26, another bipartisan letter signed by 45 senators was sent to the White House.

The U.S. has rejected Taiwan's request for new F-16C/Ds since 2006. A $4.2 billion upgrade package for 145 ageing F-16A/B Block 20s has also been on hold by the U.S. government since 2009. The U.S. State Department plans to make a final decision on the F-16 issue by Oct. 1.

During the recent Taipei Aerospace and Defense Technology Exhibition (TADTE) in August, a U.S. Air Force delegation was in Taiwan to finalize the upgrade package for the F-16A/Bs. U.S. defense industry and Taiwan military sources at TADTE said the U.S. has decided to release only the upgrade package and forgo the release of new F-16C/Ds in effort to placate China.

In an odd twist, TADTE sources said Taiwan would not be able to afford both the F-16A/B upgrade package and new C/D fighters. So if the F-16C/Ds were approved, Taiwan would have to cancel the A/B upgrade program. Several TADTE sources were also skeptical Taiwan could afford to upgrade its entire fleet of 145 F-16A/Bs. A more likely scenario would be "half" of the fleet, a Taiwan defense analyst said.

If F-16C/Ds were approved by the U.S., the Taiwanese military would have to request that the legislature pass a special budget outside the regular defense budget. Part of the problem is that Taiwan's defense budget is being squeezed by $16.6 billion worth of arms released by the U.S. government since 2007.

The list is extensive: 12 P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile defense missile systems and upgrade for older PAC-2 systems, 30 AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters, 60 UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters, two Osprey-class mine hunting ships, upgrades for four E-2T Hawkeye aircraft and additional Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

Taiwan is also implementing a costly streamlining and modernization program that will move the military away from conscription to an all-volunteer force. The military is also reducing the number of troops from 270,000 to 215,000 within the next ten years. Taiwan's aging population and reduced birth rate will make it difficult to fill slots in the military.

Taiwan's F-16A/Bs are in need of new radar, electronic warfare suite and cockpit. TADTE sources said Taiwan was pushing for the release of the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA), rather than less sophisticated mechanical radar. The AESA competitors for the A/B upgrade bid are Northrop Grumman's Scalable Agile Beam Radar and the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar to replace the A/Bs APG-66(V)3 mechanical radar. If the U.S. government does not release AESA, Taiwan will have to settle for the Northrop APG-68(V)9 mechanical radar.

A former U.S. defense official said that there were elements within the Pentagon arguing that Taiwan could not be trusted with AESA. Fears included recent high-profile Chinese espionage cases in Taipei and the remote possibility a Taiwan F-16 pilot might defect to China with an AESA-equipped F-16.

However, the last two defections occurred in 1981 and 1989 when two F-5 Tigers flew to China for political reasons. Today, there is a high level of esprit de corps among F-16 pilots in Taiwan.

Taiwan also has some of the best-trained F-16 pilots in the world. Taiwan's 21st Tactical Fighter Squadron ("Gamblers") has been based at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., since the 1990s for training.

The TAMA legislation states that "Taiwan's air force continues to deteriorate, and it needs additional advanced multirole fighter aircraft in order to modernize its fleet and maintain self-defense capability."

The Air Force has a mix of 387 indigenous, French and U.S.-built fighter aircraft: 145 F-16A/Bs, 126 Indigenous Defense Fighters, 56 Mirage 2000-5s and 60 aging F-5E/F Tigers. Taiwan is preparing to retire the F-5s within five years and mothballing the Mirage fighters within five to 10 years due to high maintenance costs. This will reduce the number of fighters to 271 at the same time China increases its fighter strength.

TAMA cites reports of increased Chinese military modernization efforts from the recent 2011 report to Congress on "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China" and the 2010 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) preliminary assessment of the status and capabilities of Taiwan's air force.

The DIA report said that "[a]though Taiwan has nearly 400 combat aircraft in service, far fewer of these are operationally capable." The report concluded, "Many of Taiwan's fighter aircraft are close to or beyond service life, and many require extensive maintenance support."

However, congressional motivation might also be more closely connected to economic concerns than Taiwan's security. According to TAMA, the sale of 66 F-16C/Ds to Taiwan would generate $8.7 billion in gross product and more than 87,666 person-years of employment in the U.S., including 23,407 direct jobs, "while economic benefits would likely be realized in 44 states."

Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president, U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, said that the sale would "produce over $767 million in federal tax revenue and almost $600 million in additional revenue for state and local coffers through the term of the contract."
The sale would "provide badly needed economic stimulus that the American people do not have to fund through increased borrowing," he said.

Taiwan Ramps Up Indigenous Weapon Production

Defense News


Taiwan Ramps Up Indigenous Weapon Production


TAIPEI - Taiwan's indigenous weapons development efforts are improving as fears arise that the U.S. will scale back arms sales to the self-governed island.
Taiwan has been expanding research-and-development efforts for a variety of exotic weapons the U.S. is reluctant to sell to Taiwan.

The military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST) and the state-run Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC) are developing most of the new weapons.

New programs include an anti-radiation UAV, a graphite bomb, an electromagnetic pulse weapon, a hypersonic vehicle testing capability, a long-range UAV, ship stealth technology and a catamaran-hulled ship, said a Taiwan defense analyst.

Over the past several years, the U.S. has denied Taiwan's request for air-launched weapons considered offensive in nature, including the Joint Direct Attack Munition and AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile.

According to KMT legislator Lin Yu-fang in a Sept. 6 news release, Taiwan is going forward with the production of the air-launched Wan Chien (Ten Thousand Swords) cluster bomb. Production is to begin around 2014 to 2018, he said.

Local analysts say the Wan Chien is modeled after the U.S.-built AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon and will be outfitted on the AIDC F-CK-1 Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF).

Taiwan's defense industry has adopted a "spiral or capabilities-based approach" to weapons development, where a "new system is rolled out in stages, with each stage producing a new version that is an improvement," the analyst said.

Examples are a new prototype of an advanced IDF-II by AIDC, improvements to the Po Sheng/Syun An command, control, communications, computers, intelligence,
surveillance and reconnaissance system, the ramjet-powered supersonic Hsiung Feng 3 (Brave Wind) anti-ship cruise missile and the extended-range Tien Kung (Sky Bow) surface-to-air missile by CSIST, he said.

To improve CSIST's research-and-development capabilities, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) plans to convert CSIST into an administrative institution under MND supervision and rename it the National Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology. The MND submitted legislation for the conversion earlier this year.

The conversion will expand the transfer of dual-use technologies to the private sector, and a board of directors will run it, making it more of a business-minded institution.

The topic will be among those discussed at the upcoming annual 10th U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference Sept. 19-20 in Richmond, Va. The conference will include speeches by U.S.-Taiwan Business Council Chairman Paul Wolfowitz and Taiwan Deputy Minister of Defense for Policy Nien-Dzu "Andrew" Yang.

Yang will lead a delegation of 14 MND officials to the conference, said Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council. "The meeting will focus on where we are in support of Taiwan. The big questions relate to air power, the role of Congress and the Taiwan presidential election," he said.

Taiwan is awaiting a final decision by the U.S. on its request for 66 F-16C/D fighter aircraft and an upgrade package for its older F-16A/B fighters. A final decision on both is expected before Oct. 1.

China Adds an ICBM Brigade

Defense News


China Adds an ICBM Brigade


TAIPEI – China is boosting its ICBM capabilities, while Washington is reassuring Chinese officials that its ballistic missile defense systems are not deployed against them.

China has added a new road-mobile brigade whose Dong Feng 31A (DF-31A) missiles can reach any location in the continental United States, according to a paper released on Sept. 12 by the Project 2049 Institute.

Authors Mark Stokes and L.C. Russell Hsiao said the 805 Brigade, located in Shaoyang City, Hunan, is the second brigade in the Second Artillery Corps (SAC) to get the 11,200-kilometer DF-31A.

The first was the 812 Brigade in Tianshui, Gansu Province, which achieved initial operational capability in 2001.

In 2006, SAC’s 813 Brigade in Nanyang, Henan Province, received the basic DF-31, whose 7,200-kilometer range allows them to hit all of Asia, Russia and the western half of the Pacific, including Alaska and Guam.

SAC, which is responsible for China’s ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, has been slowly replacing older liquid-fueled silo-based DF-4s with solid-fueled road-mobile DF-31s. China now has around 30 DF-31s and DF-31As.

The paper arrives a week after Frank Rose, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, told a BMD conference in Copenhagen “that our missile defenses are not designed to threaten Chinese strategic forces.”

The U.S. is struggling to balance China’s concerns about U.S. BMD efforts in the region with protecting Japan and South Korea from North Korea’s growing ballistic and nuclear weapons arsenal.

“It is important, however, that China understand that the United States will work to ensure regional stability,” Rose said Sept. 5. “We are committed to a positive, cooperative relationship with China, while defending against regional ballistic missile threats regardless of their origins.”

A U.S. observer concurred that the Pentagon’s ballistic missile defense system is not officially directed against China, but said a system that can intercept a few North Korean or Iranian ballistic missiles obviously also has the potential to intercept a few Chinese ballistic missiles.

“The global scope of the Phased Adaptive Approach outlined by the Obama administration with mobile ICBM interceptors to be deployed in the future will almost certainly deepen Chinese concerns about the effectiveness of its nuclear deterrent,” said Hans Kristensen, who directs the Nuclear Information Project for the Federation of American Scientists.

Kristensen said the fact that China still has relatively few DF-31As appears to confirm, at least at present, that Beijing still adheres to a “minimum nuclear deterrent posture toward the United States.” But another analyst said the U.S. and Chinese efforts could evolve into a “slow-motion arms race as their strategic forces become increasingly entangled with each other.”

“The big question is whether all these new systems — road-mobile ballistic missiles, missile defenses and so on — will be crisis-stable,” said Jeffrey Lewis, who directs the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

What would happen if China decided to field the DF-31A as a signal during a crisis? How would the U.S. interpret the move? As a prelude to an attack? A bluff? “Given past U.S. and Chinese crisis management, I have no desire to see the results of that particular science experiment,” Lewis said.

China has showed little interest in participating in the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) or joining the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and has a history of using ballistic missiles. During the 1996 missile crisis, China fired 10 DF-15 short-range ballistic missiles off the coast of Taiwan. The number of SRBMs aimed at Taiwan has mushroomed from 300 to 1,400 in the last decade.

China is fielding a new anti-ship ballistic missile, the DF-21D, which is said to be able to sink or disable a U.S. aircraft carrier. Chinese spies have been accused of stealing U.S. designs for the W-88 thermonuclear warhead.

At present, each DF-31A missile can carry only one nuclear warhead, limiting its effectiveness, but China has been researching multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) technology. The development of a Chinese MIRV would be a “real game changer” for the U.S., said Gary Li, an intelligence analyst with U.K.-based Exclusive Analysis.

However, Kristensen said, MIRV capabilities are so far “unnecessary for China’s minimum nuclear deterrent posture — and would significantly shorten the range of Chinese ICBMs — unless the United States or Russia deploy anti-ballistic missile defense systems that have a capability to intercept warheads from the Chinese ICBM force.”

Without a BMD system, Li said, the U.S. must rely on air strikes to take out China’s ICBMs, but the fact that the DF-31 and DF-31A are road­mobile and not silo-based makes a pre-emptive airstrike dubious.

“Immense efforts have also been focused on improving the robustness of the Second Artillery’s C4ISR capabilities in order for it to be able to fire even when conventional communications are down after a nuclear strike,” Li said.

DoD China Report Draws Fire

Defense News


DoD China Report Draws Fire


WASHINGTON and TAIPEI — The release of the 2011 annual Pentagon report on Chinese military modernization, criticized by some in Washington for lacking substance and some in China as falsely portraying a Chinese threat, highlights the importance of military-to-military ties and greater interaction.

“Look at it like fondue. The meat is there, but it has to be cooked,” said Mark Stokes, former senior country director for China and Taiwan in the office of the U.S. assistant defense secretary.

“Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China” is not the original name of the report. Two years ago, elements in the U.S. government decided to change the name from “Military Power of the People’s Republic of China” in an effort to soften the tone and placate China.

Stokes said that the report is actually getting “better with each passing year in terms of style and format,” but ultimately it is an official Pentagon report and “reflects consensus” with “only marginal changes from previous years.”

In its annual report to Congress, released Aug. 24, only a week after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Beijing to explain why the U.S. would not default on its debt, the Pentagon presents a diplomatic but watchful stance toward the country and urges stronger military-to-military relationships between the two powers.

“Although China’s expanding military capabilities can facilitate cooperation in pursuit of shared objectives, they can also increase the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculation,” the report says.

“Strengthening our military-to­military relationship is a critical part of our strategy to shape China’s choices as we seek to capitalize on opportunities for cooperation while mitigating risks.”

However, observers in Taipei argue better military cooperation between China and the U.S. could leave Taiwan feeling abandoned. The U.S. is expected to deny Taiwan’s request for new F-16C/D fighters in September. The implication of denying new fighter aircraft to Taiwan while a Pentagon report points to rapid militarization of China suggests a Jekyll-Hyde approach to dealing with a rising China.

Many in Washington argue that ties between China and Taiwan have improved to the point that new F-16s would disrupt a potential cross-Strait peace accord. However, cross-Strait relations also have security implications for the U.S., said Lin Cheng-yi, research fellow at Academia Sinica, Taipei.

“With tensions between China and Taiwan declining, China has become more active in claiming sovereignty over the disputed islands in the East China Sea and South China Sea,” Lin said. “With the disappearance of the Taiwan buffer, Taiwan’s neighboring countries now have to deal with China directly and with the possibility of seeing a less sympathetic Taiwan.”

As cross-Strait ties improve and the risk of war between China and Taiwan fades, the question now facing the U.S. is whether or not “Taiwan’s creeping unification might also challenge the future stability of the region,” he said.

But China’s state news agency accused the U.S. of “exaggerating” the threat posed by its military, according to Agence France-Presse.

Xinhua News Agency said many people in China found it odd that the United States, which spends far more on its military than any other country in the world, should highlight Chinese expenditure.

“The report ... exaggerated the threat incurred by China’s military development in 2010 to the Asia-Pacific region,” Xinhua said in a commentary. “For many in China, it is weird that the Pentagon, whose expenditures reached nearly $700 billion and accounted for more than an appalling 40 percent of the world’s total in 2010, routinely points its finger at China.”

The 83-page Pentagon report comes months after its March 1 deadline. The report fails to mention the F-16C/D issue.

“There have been no decisions made on arms sales to Taiwan, but as I said before, this is an issue that we continue to work and, in my office, we work this question on a daily basis,” Michael Schiffer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, said at a press briefing.

In January 2010, the Chinese government suspended military­to-military relations with the United States, following U.S. approval of a $6.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan.

“Although the United States and China maintained working level contact during the nine-month suspension that followed, routine military-to-military exchanges did not resume until the final quarter of 2010,” the report says.

According to the report, the United States would now like to see those relationships strengthened.

“This interaction can facilitate common approaches to challenges and serves as a bridge to build more productive working relationships,” the report says.

The report highlights China’s participation in counterpiracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden as one of its important engagements with foreign militaries. 

No Mention of Debt 

In addition to its growing mili­tary might, China also holds about 8 percent of U.S. debt, the largest block in foreign hands. The report contains no discussion of the security implications for the United States of China holding so much of its debt.

Those sorts of issues are not included because they are outside of the report’s congressional mandate and “frankly outside the scope or the expertise of the De­partment of Defense,” Schiffer said.

“This is obviously an extraordinarily complex economic relationship that we have with China. And I know that that’s receiving a lot of extraordinarily high-level attention from U.S. and Chinese leadership,” he said, citing Biden’s recent trip to the country.

As for military spending, on March 4, Beijing announced a 12.7 percent increase in its military budget, saying it would spend approximately $91.5 billion. However, the Pentagon estimates that China’s total military-related spending for 2010 was more than $160 billion.

The United States continues to urge China to increase trans­parency when it comes to its military spending. Beijing’s strategy is illustrated by Deng Xiaoping, who said that China must “hide our capabilities and bide our time.” This statement explains a lot about China’s tendency to ignore transparency requests and to simply wait for an opportunity to assert itself.

In the report, an item of major concern is Chinese missile development.

“The [People’s Liberation Army] is acquiring large numbers of highly accurate cruise missiles, many of which have ranges in excess of 185 km,” the report says. This includes the DH-10 land-attack cruise missile, the ship-launch YJ-62 anti-ship cruise missile and the Russian SS-N-22 Sunburn supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles.

Much of this information is the same as from previous Pentagon reports.

The report also mentions the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile, dubbed the “aircraft carrier killer,” but does not discuss how this type of missile might reshape U.S. naval strategy and doctrine.

In another odd section, the report says that China “may also be developing a new road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile, possibly capable of carrying a multiple independently targetable re­entry vehicle (MIRV).” Then the report drops the issue from discussion. It does not explain the significance of a road-mobile ICBM carrying MIRVed nuclear warheads, or what that potentially could mean to the U.S. West Coast.

China is also developing long­range stealthy aircraft capable of challenging U.S. air power in the region.

The January flight of China’s next-generation fighter prototype, the J-20, highlights China’s ambition to produce a fighter aircraft that incorporates stealth attributes, advanced avionics and supercruise capable engines over the next several years.

The DoD report plays down China’s first aircraft carrier, the refurbished ex-Soviet Varyag. No mention is made of the strategic implications the carrier might have on the Philippines and Vietnam with regard to the South China Sea.