No US pressure on locally made missiles: MND chief
By Joseph Yeh, The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) yesterday denied that pressure from the United States is the main reason for the delay of a domestically manufactured missile project.
March 14, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
Fielding questions during the Legislature's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee yesterday, Kao said that the locally developed Wan Chien missile project (萬劍飛彈) is currently under review by his ministry.
The ministry has not made its final decision on the weapon system yet, he added.
“There is no pressure (from the U.S.) and the project is still ongoing,” he said.
Kao made the remark in response questions raised by ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), who alleged that Washington has pressed the Ministry of National Defense (MND) to slow down the project in making way for imported missiles from the U.S.
Kao was at the committee to brief lawmakers on the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) released by the MND.
This is the second version of the QDR released by the military. It aims to serve as a review on the nation's defense strategies and to articulate future defense policy for the next four years.
Taiwan issued its first QDR in 2009 to the Legislature for review as a result of an amendment to the National Defense Act. Regulation requires that the QDR be sent to the Legislative Yuan for review every four years.
Speaking during yesterday's legislative session, Lin said that in the MND's debut QDR released in 2009, it put the Wan Chien missile project as one of its top priorities.
In the just released QDR, however, the ministry did not even mention the project, he added.
Also, the MND has repeatedly refused to review the project submitted by Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST, 中山科學研究院), the ministry's main research and development institute, the lawmaker said.
He alleged that the evidence suggests the MND could cancel the project.
Military sources said the Wan Chien long-range air-to-surface missile was designed to be mounted on locally built Indigenous Defense Fighters by 2014.
The air-to-surface missiles that have a range of 200 km or more have concluded their testing stage and are now ready to enter mass production, sources said.
Building New Jets an Option
Citing the QDR, Lin yesterday also asked Kao if the MND is considering building the latest generation fighter jets instead of depending solely on imported ones.
In response, the minister said that the MND takes the issue “very seriously.”
“We are open to every option,” he added.
But he also noted that ministry is now focusing on producing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles instead of fighter jets.