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NT$700 mil. radar maintenance irks lawmakers

The China Post news staff--The Air Force's new long-range early warning radar deployed in Hsinchu mountainous area is expected to begin operating this November; however, given that the Ministry of National Defense (MND) only allocated NT$300 million for its F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot training program, lawmakers were skeptical about the new radar's yearly maintenance fee of more than NT$700 million.

Government officials stated that new radar's maintenance fees cannot be categorized under the same umbrella with other military procurements. Usually, the MND purchases and reserves more back-up accessories for new military equipment in the first two years; therefore, new military equipment does not require the same substantial funding allocation as is needed for older equipment.

In the years between 2000 and 2004, the Air Force spent NT$700 million replacing the old GE-592 three-dimensional long-ranged search radar located in the southwestern area of Taiwan.

In years between 2000 and 2006, to avoid anti-radiation missiles from locating radius waves sent from military bases, the Air Force spent NT$900 million on projects of installing electronic nets above military bases.

This year, the Air Force spent only NT$170 million to a install battery back-up systems in military bases, which is far less than the NT$700 million budget allocated for the new radar, according to the MND.

According to the Air Force, the allocated budget will be used to keep up the new radar's system performance.

Because this will the first time the new radar is operated in the nation, the Air Force said that they are still trying to figure out procedures for operating the new radar.

As for details of how to manage the huge budget, the Air Force stated that they will follow the principle of austerity and make sure every dollar is wisely spent.

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