Taiwan Invests in Air Defense Systems to Counter China

Taiwan Invests in Air Defense Systems to Counter China

Taiwan is seeking to enhance its air defenses as China continues to sortie aircraft into the self-governing island's air defense identification zone.

Last week, the United States approved a possible sale of $100 million worth of military equipment and services to Taiwan. If it is completed, the deal will include engineering services to support legacy Guidance Enhanced Missiles (GEM) and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles.  

Taipei is also investing in the indigenously developed Tien Kung 3 (TK-3) air defense system, which is designed to counter tactical ballistic missiles and replace the older Hawk missile system. The TK-3, formerly known as the TK-2 anti-tactical ballistic missile, was initially conceived as a lower-tier missile defense system. It was indigenously developed by the Taiwan-based National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology to increase the air defense capabilities of Taiwan's armed forces. The TK-3 utilizes an imported Ku-Band active radar seeker, a directed fragmentation warhead, and improved precision controls for engaging high-speed, low radar cross-section targets such as tactical ballistic missiles.

Countering Chinese Aggression

Taiwan is seeking to enhance its air defenses as the People's Republic of China continues to sortie combat aircraft into the self-governing island's air defense identification zone (ADIZ).

According to the recent "Global Missiles and Missile Defense Systems Market 2021-2031" report from international data analytics firm GlobalData, Taiwan is expected to spend approximately $6.1 billion on missiles and missile defense systems between 2021 and 2031.

In addition to the TK-3, Taiwan's acquisition of short-range air defense systems, including the U.S. Stinger FIM-92H and the indigenously developed Sea Oryx naval system, is also expected to boost the country's air defense network. Taiwan is further enhancing its strike capability by acquiring other advanced missiles.

"As the Patriot constitutes a key component of Taiwan's air defense network, its up-gradation and maintenance are of utmost importance," explained an analyst at GlobalData.

The need for Taiwan to modernize its air defense infrastructure has been primarily fuelled by China’s frequent incursions into its ADIZ. In January, China sent thirty-nine warplanes into Taiwan’s ADIZ in its second-largest incursion on record.

The warplanes in last month’s incursion included twenty-four J-16 fighters, which experts have said is among China's favorite jets for testing Taiwan's air defenses,­ as well as ten J-10 fighters and one nuclear-capable H-6 bomber.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.

Image: Reuters.