Coastal missiles will boost asymmetrical warfare ability: experts

10/27/2020 04:56 PM
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Taipei, Oct. 27 (CNA) A proposed coastal defense missile system sale approved by the U.S. Monday will be complementary to the nation's existing anti-ship missile system and boost Taiwan's asymmetrical warfare capabilities, local military experts said Tuesday.

Washington announced Monday that it has approved a possible sale to Taipei of up to 100 Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems (HCDS) and related equipment for approximately US$2.37 billion.

It was the second time in a week that Washington has announced arms sales to Taiwan and the 9th arms sale announced by President Donald Trump since he took office in January 2017.

The package includes 400 RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Surface Launched Missiles and four RTM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Exercise Missiles as well as 411 containers, 100 Harpoon Coastal Defense System Launcher Transporter Units, 25 radar trucks, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, and logistics support services.

Asked to comment, Sung Yu-ning (宋玉寧), a senior editor of Defense International Magazine, told CNA that Taiwan's military already has three types of Harpoon missiles, which are carried on fixed-wing aircraft (AGM-84L), ships (RGM-84L) and submarines (UGA-84L).

The Harpoon missiles approved by the U.S. this time are launched from launchers stationed in coastal areas, which is similar to Taiwan's existing Hsiung Feng II anti-ship missile system produced by the military's top research unit, the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, according to Sung.

Compared with its predecessors, the RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II missile has enhanced resistance to electronic countermeasures and improved targeting, making the weapons system more deadly to enemy vessels, Sung said.

The Block II version of Harpoon missiles are also capable of hitting targets offshore despite high waves, a perfect choice for Taiwan's defensive needs and complimentary to the Hsiung Feng II missiles in counterattacking People's Liberation Army (PLA) forces in case of an invasion, he said.

Meanwhile, Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a research fellow at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, said the latest arms packages, together with previous round of proposed packages that included Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) missiles and Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, are intended to elevate the nation's overall defensive capability within a short period with a limited defense budget.

The investment seeks to boost Taiwan's asymmetric warfare capabilities to counter the growing military strength of the PLA and deter Chinese forces from invading the island, he said.

The arms package which also comes with 400 Harpoon Block II missiles as well as 411 containers, 100 launcher Transporter Units and 25 radar trucks can be deployed by a total of 25 missile vehicle units in Taiwan.

Each unit is capable of carrying 16 missiles, which is equal to the firepower of two naval frigates and are capable of eliminating invading PLA vessels offshore, he said.

These arms packages also help Taiwan establish closer links with its allies, including the U.S. and Japan as part of Washington's new "island-hopping warfare" which involves deploying missiles along Japan's south western islands and islands along the First Island Chain to counter China's maritime expansion, Su said.

(By Matt Yu and Joseph Yeh)

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