Missile Command

Taiwan's military activated a new Missile Command on 01 January 2004, combining air-defense missiles from the Army and the land-based, anti-ship missiles of the Navy. The new Missile Command, based on the Army's previous missile control authority, might become an independent unit in the future, similar to the the Chinese military's second artillery corps. The combined number of missiles numbers over 2,000. Headed by a two-star army general, the Missile Command is effectively an upgrade of the army's missile control [led by a one-star general], and will operate from the army's general headquarters.

Missiles under the Command's authority include the Tien Kung-series missiles, and the Hawk and Patriot PAC-2 Plus missiles purchased from the US. The Patriot PAC-3 missile system, which the military intends to purchase, will also be assigned to the command. The army's air-defense missiles were taken over by the Missile Command when it was activated on 01 January 2004.

Coastal Radar SquadronThe Navy's land-based Hsiung Feng-series anti-ship missiles were the only weapons system that the command will take over from the other services. These missiles were previously under Navy control. The command was expected to encounter some problems absorbing the anti-ship missiles from the Navy's control, since the navy had been reluctant to turn over all its missiles to the command. The navy's anti-ship missiles changed hands on 01 July 2004. Taiwn's Navy deploys several batteries of Hsiung Feng II surface-to-surface missiles for coastal defense on Quemoy, Matsu, Tung-Ying, Wu-Chiu and Chu-Kwang islands.

As a result of objections from the Air Force, ROCAF missile systems such as the land-based Sparrow air-defense missile were not transfered to the new command. The Air Force [and Navy] had doubted whether the Army had the ability to command and control their missile systems, considering that the army is the weakest of the three services in command and control infrastructure.

On October 3, 2008 the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Taiwan of 330 PATRIOT Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missiles, as well as associated equipment and services. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $3.1 billion. The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States had requested a possible sale of 330 PATRIOT Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missiles, 4 AN/MPQ-65 Radar Sets, 2 Tactical Command Stations, 2 Information and Coordination Centrals, 6 Communication Replay Groups, 4 Engagement Control Stations, 24 Launching Stations, 12 Antenna Mast Groups, 282 Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS) (115 AN/VRC-88E, 96 AN/VRC-90E, 13 AN/VRC-91E, and 58 AN/VRC-92E), 9 Electronic Power Plant III (EPP), 50 Multifunctional Information Distribution Systems (MIDS), battery and battalion maintenance equipment, prime movers, generators, electrical power units, personnel training and equipment, trailers, communication equipment, tool and test sets, spare and repair parts, publications, supply support Quality Assurance Team support services, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics services, technical documentation, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $3.1 billion.

All medium and long-range air defense missile units of the air force were merged into a single unit under General Staff Headquarters in February 2012. With Missile Command and its air defense units coming under the direct control of the ministry, reaction time will be quicker as the chain of command is shortened, which meets the requirements for air defense security. Missile defense units, including the Patriot, Tien Kung and Hawk batteries, were placed under Missile Command. Lieutenant General Liao Jung-hsing would become the head of Missile Command.

This was the first major change to the nation’s air defense operations command structure since 2006, when various missile battalions were shifted to the air force’s air-defense artillery general headquarters, which is now the air-defense artillery command. Following the move, Oerlikon anti-aircraft artillery systems and the vehicle-mounted Tien Chien 1 missiles formed the backbone of the air force’s short-range air-defense capabilities.

Although the number of Chinese missiles targeting Taiwan in recent years — more than 1,000 — had not increased as dramatically as before, their accuracy and capabilities have increased. While the cross-strait situation seems stable at present, the military threat from China has become more serious.

The military’s missile and anti-missile capabilities have improved in recent years. In addition to procurement of Patriot-3 missiles from the US and deployment of the Tien Kung III missile, the Hsiung Feng IIE surface-to-surface cruise missile, which can hit targets in certain parts of China, has also been deployed. One of the priorities for Taiwan’s military was to procure 600km to 800km-range cruise missiles like the Hsiung Feng IIE, which is similar to the US-made Tomahawk cruise missile. The military planned to produce 245 Hsiung Feng IIEs.

The Army Missile Maintenance Plant in Linkou Township, Taipei County personnel are the behind-the-scenes heroes in missile operations, and their painstaking maintenance work ensures that missile missions are successful. The Army Missile Maintenance Plant is subordinate to the Missile Optoelectronics Depot under Army Headquarters and is primarily responsible for ground-based missile R&D, testing and maintenance work, while also striving to develop maintenance capabilities. Its specific tasks are classified as on-base overhauls, field maintenance and R&D work on military equipment. The Plant's field-maintenance work must support all missiles used by the Army, Navy and Air Force, including Patriot missiles, and the scope of its operations encompasses Taiwan and many offshore islands.

As requested by the workshop headquarters, the Missile Maintenance Plant relies on three levels of command, staff and specialists to establish a "grade one assisting grade one" mechanism and assist and implement performance assessment at all lower grades. As a result, all personnel have sufficient on-the-job skills and knowledge to successfully perform their jobs and accomplish the Plant's missions.

Because most missiles and other high-tech equipment are purchased overseas, in the past, Taiwan depended on foreign sources for most spare parts, key technologies and maintenance skills. This not only consumed large amounts of maintenance funds but also considerable time when equipment had to be sent to the original plant for maintenance or supplies had to be sent from foreign sources. The great loss of time adversely affected preparedness. As a consequence, the Missile Maintenance Plant relied on technology shared among the branches of the armed forces to perform much innovative R&D and has successfully overcome many obstacles regarding maintenance technology for key components. The Plant was thus able to effectively shorten equipment supply time while also saving large amounts of public funds.

On 26 October 2020 the US State Department made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO) of up to one hundred (100) Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems (HCDS) and related equipment for an estimated cost of $2.37 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale.

TECRO requested to buy up to one hundred (100) Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems (HCDS) consisting of up to four hundred (400) RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Surface Launched Missiles; and four (4) RTM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Exercise Missiles. Also included are four hundred and eleven (411) containers, one hundred (100) Harpoon Coastal Defense System Launcher Transporter Units, twenty-five (25) radar trucks, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor representatives’ technical assistance, engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support. This proposed sale is consistent with U.S. law and policy as expressed in Public Law 96-8. This proposed sale serves U.S. national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability. The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, economic and progress in the region.

This proposed sale will improve the recipient’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing a flexible solution to augment existing surface and air defenses. The recipient will be able to employ a highly reliable and effective system to counter or deter maritime aggressions, coastal blockades, and amphibious assaults. This capability will easily integrate into existing force infrastructure. The recipient will have no difficulty absorbing these systems into its armed forces. The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region. The principal contractor will be The Boeing Company, St. Louis, MO. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

According to Taiwan media outlets 22 August 2021, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority proposed a special budget totaling NT$200 billion ($7.14 billion) to "expedite the mass production of missiles with precision and long-range capabilities." This is equivalent to 54 percent of its annual military expenditure.

If Taiwan wants to produce those missiles and form combat effectiveness, it would take the island five to 10 years even if it advances the progress at a fast speed. Besides, the missiles need the support of systematic military capabilities, including the follow-up upgrade of intelligence capabilities and strategic deployment. Currently, Taiwan's overall military system is defensive.

An un-signed editorial in Global Times [reflecting the officia view of the CCP] stated "if Taiwan does have the preparation to threaten the mainland's safety in an extremely aggressive way, the mainland must categorically request the authorities on the island to terminate their activities within a limited period and issue an ultimatum to them. If they refuse to stop their risky moves, the mainland could consider launching a surgical strike on them to destroy their ability to support such activities.

"The mainland has neither given Taiwan such a similar warning nor carried out a multiple-point precision strike on the island before. But that doesn't mean it will not do so in the future. If the DPP authority takes radical actions that tend to promote "Taiwan independence" or pose a serious threat to the security of the mainland, it will be time for the latter to enforce a policy of brinkmanship on Taiwan and force it to back off with ultimatums. If the authorities on the island still insist on going their own way, we will launch a surgical strike against them. "

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