Gov't pays US NT$700 mil. yearly for radar upkeep
The China Post news staffTAIPEI, Taiwan -- The government spends slightly more than NT$700 million a year on commissioning the U.S. military to manage and maintain the nation's long-range early-warning radar system to secure normal operation of the system, according to an 11-page written report recently delivered by the Ministry of National Defense (MND) to the Legislative Yuan.
October 6, 2013, 12:08 am TWN
This is the first time the MND has publicized details of the military radar cooperation program between the U.S. and Taiwan.
The system, acquired from the U.S. and installed on Leshan (樂山) in Hsinchu County, Northern Taiwan at a total cost of NT$40.9 billion, began operations in early February this year, according to the report.
The government placed an order with the U.S. for the long-range early-warning radar system following the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1995 and 1996, when mainland China launched missiles into the sea near the Taiwanese coast in a move to intimidate and influence the course of Taiwan's first direct presidential election. Following 10 years of negotiations with the U.S., construction of the radar system kicked off in 2007.
The MND said in the report that the radar, the first of its kind in Asia, can conduct 360-degree surveillance and has a maximum range of 3,300 kilometers, encompassing almost the whole of East Asia and Western Pacific.
The advanced radar system can detect and track long- and short-range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. With the system, Taiwan is expected to obtain an additional seven minutes to respond to a missile attack from China.
The MND continued that the capabilities of the radar system established on Leshan surpass any early-warning radar system set up in other countries in the Asia-Pacific area with the assistance of the U.S.
The radar's warning mechanism was activated for the first time by North Korea's missile launch on Dec. 12 last year, when the system was ready for a test run, enabling Taiwan to detect the launch before Japan did.
The MND report also released information concerning the exact location of the long-range early-warning radar system, the deployment of the power supply system, anti-attack measures for the radar station, and related surveillance results, etc.
MND officials said that the Air Force has convened a radar reconnaissance maintenance meeting in the first half of the year with U.S. military representatives and Raytheon Company, a major American defense contractor. One of the key conclusions of the meeting is that in the initial operating years of the radar, the U.S. military will be responsible for the management and maintenance of the radar system, and the budget will be set year by year, with the 2013 budget set at NT$712.69 million.
But the MND also stressed in the report that the Air Force Command is also working hard to strive for maintenance technology transfers from the U.S., so as to gradually reduce the annual maintenance budget.
On another front, lawmakers were shocked by the great extent of the publicity of the Taiwan-U.S. radar cooperation program. Lawmaker Lin Yu-fang of the ruling Kuomintang, who joins the Defense Committee of the legislature, termed the detailed exposure of the program “unimaginable.”
Lawmakers noted that the MND used the exposure to highlight Taiwan's close military cooperation with the U.S., seeking to have their 2014 fiscal budget clear the legislative floor as soon as possible.