Taiwan Doesn’t Need THAAD, Claims Defense Minister and US Think Tank
The Republic of China (Taiwan) doesn't need to acquire the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to protect itself from missiles fired at it from mainland China, argues a United States think tank specializing in issues affecting Taiwan.
There are anywhere from between 1,000 to 2,000 missiles operated by the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) aimed at Taiwan from positions along the coastal mainland provinces of Guangdong, Fujian and Zhejiang.
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THAAD might not be a suitable defensive system for Taiwan, argues Randall Schriver, president and chief executive officer of the Project 2049 Institute. This American think tank focuses on security issues and public policy in the Asia-Pacific region and Central-Asia, with a special emphasis on Taiwan.
Schriver was a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State responsible for issues relating to Taiwan, China and Hong Kong.
He pointed out the U.S.has sold MIM-104F (PAC-3) Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems to Taiwan to protect against Chinese missiles launched from mobile launchers or from coastal installations.
He also noted that since Taiwan's defense needs were different from those of Japan and South Korea, THAAD might not be the most suitable for Taiwan.
Taiwan's Minister of Defense Feng Shih-kuan publicly opposes the acquisition of THAAD, saying this will embroil Taiwan in the messy dispute involving South Korea, the U.S. and China.
Some Taiwanese pundits, however, believe THAAD will be an extra card against China and that the defense ministry should argue in its favor.
The missile threat confronting Taiwan is massive and was illustrated during the recent Chinese lunar new year when PLARF conducted a series of training exercises involving its short range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) and medium range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) such as the DF-16.
Separate PLARF brigades conducted combat drills involving deploying and practice firing of a wide variety of ballistic missiles.
Among the missiles tested were the DF-11, an SRBM with a range of 300 km and carrying an 800 kg high-explosive warhead; the DF-15 SRBM with a range of 600 km and a 500 kg high explosive warhead; the DF-16 MRBM with a range of 1,600 km and a 1,500 high explosive warhead and the DF-21C MRBM with a range of 2,500 km and a 500 kiloton nuclear warhead.
The brigades practiced different combat scenarios, including countering satellite reconnaissance and electronic jamming. The missile crews also practiced multiple maneuvers such as rapid loading; redeployment and launch sequence.