U.S. official suggests Taiwan pursue more 'cost-effective' weapons

10/09/2019 03:43 PM
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David Helvey (CNA file photo)
David Helvey (CNA file photo)

Maryland, U.S., Oct. 8 (CNA) Taiwan needs to devote sufficient resources toward its defense, especially in cost-effective systems that leverage Taiwan's strengths and can help deter China, a U.S. official said at the U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference in Maryland on Monday.

David Helvey, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, said in a speech at the forum that the goal is to create a "distributed, maneuverable, and decentralized force", which he described as "large numbers of small things."

This force should be able to "operate in a degraded electromagnetic environment and under a barrage of missile and air attacks," Helvey said.

The systems best suited to Taiwan's island geography, he suggested, would be highly-mobile coastal defense cruise missiles, short-range air defense, naval mines, small fast-attack craft, mobile artillery, and advanced surveillance assets.

Investing in these systems would be better for Taiwan because they are more "cost-effective and survivable" compared to more conventional platforms, such as fighter aircraft or large naval vessels, he argued.

"Taiwan cannot match the PRC's defense spending, but it does not have to," Helvey said.

The U.S. is working with Taiwan in pursuing these goals and preparing "additional requests for other capabilities" that may be more suited to deterring China, Helvey said.

Among the weapons Taiwan has asked for are M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers, a request that the Ministry of National Defense confirmed in September.

Helvey said in his speech that he would not comment on specific requests made by Taiwan, but said Washington is collaborating with Taiwan on further defense engagements.

The U.S. will also continue to help Taiwan implement the Overall Defense Concept (ODC), Helvey said, as "much remains to be done" to ensure that Taiwan can field a credible force "proficient in asymmetric warfare, force preservation, and littoral battle."

In his speech, Harvey also condemned Beijing's attempts to "intimidate, isolate, and coerce" Taiwan by bullying it diplomatically, applying economic pressure, holding increasingly provocative military exercises and meddling in Taiwan's elections.

"As the Taiwan people prepare to head to the polls again in this coming January's elections, it is crucial that Taiwan's elections remain free and fair, without foreign interference," he said.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Chiang Yi-ching)


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