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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 nations air defense operations command structure since 2006, when various missile battalions were shifted to the air forces 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 forces 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 militarys 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 Taiwans 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.




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