The Ministry of National Defense has reportedly attributed theless-than-ideal results of a recent live-fire air defense drill tothe malfunction of Banshee target drones that simulate enemy aircraftor missiles.
Six of the 19 missiles with different ranges fired in the Jan. 18exercise missed their targets, prompting President Ma Ying-jeou, whowitnessed the drill, to express dissatisfaction with the results anddemand a review.
Military insiders said the failure could be related to thedrones' weak signals, which the missiles could not pick up.
The following are excerpts from local media coverage of theissue:
Military sources said all six unexploded missiles were targetedat Banshee drones, which were manufactured by state-owned AerospaceIndustrial Development Corp. (AIDC).
Only one of the 13 missiles that hit target drones -- Magicmissile -- was aimed at AIDC-made Banshee drone. The 12 others wereeither aimed at infrared irradiation bombs or a Model 1089 drone.
A senior military officer who declined to be identified said thelocally developed Tien-chien II medium-range missile had never missedits target in all previous drills until Tuesday.
A video analysis with a high-speed camera showed that theTien-chien II surface-to-air missile indeed scratched the Bansheedrone but did not explode, possibly because the signal emitted fromthe drone was too weak or the missile's sensor malfunctioned, theofficer said.
He also said the military held a similar training exercise latelast year at the same missile testing base in southern Taiwan'sPingtung County, with Chief of the General Staff Gen. Lin Chen-yipresiding. In that drill, the missile strike success rate reached 90percent, according to the officer.
"The lower-than-expected success rate in the latest drill came asa surprise," he regretted.
He also said the ministry would not discuss issues of who shouldbe held accountable or disciplined for the poor showing until after aprofessional investigation was completed. (Jan. 21, 2011).
All of Taiwan's three mainstream air-to-air missiles --Tien-chien II, MICA and Sparrow -- missed targets in Tuesday'stest-firing -- the largest-scale live-fire military exercise sincePresident Ma assumed office.
A retired Air Force officer said such medium-range missilesshould not have been test-fired in low-altitude or short-rangescenarios.
The former officer said he believed that the military arrangedsuch a drill simply with the intention of having Ma see missileshitting their targets. (Jan. 21, 2011).
(By Sofia Wu)