US expected to sell Aegis ships

Published: February 29, 2000
Source: News reports

Chances that Taiwan could acquire advanced Aegis-equipped destroyers from the United States have increased, thanks to mainland China's harsh words in its recent white paper on Taiwan policy, military officials and a lawmaker said yesterday.

According to a Central News Agency report, unnamed military officials expressed optimism that Taiwan would obtain the Aegis system in the wake of Beijing's latest saber-rattling. Meanwhile Parris Chang, a Democratic Progressive Party legislator, was quoted by the Taipei Times as saying: "Due to China's 'help,' the Clinton administration is very likely to sell [the ships] to Taiwan in exchange for an agreement from the Senate not to pass the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act."

According to a report in the New York Times, the Pentagon is considering Taiwan's request to buy four Aegis-equipped vessels. However, the Ministry of National Defense has declined to comment on the matter, saying it is too early to talk about the issue since no decision will be made before April.

Meanwhile, a local military analyst has said that buying the Aegis-class destroyers might not be Taiwan's best option. Eleven Jan, a senior editor at the Defense Technology Monthly magazine, was quoted by the Taipei Times as saying: "The Aegis ships are to be used for the theater missile defense (TMD) system being developed by the U.S.. We don't need to spend so much money to build an anti-missile defense network, either land-based or sea-based. What we should develop is the capability to sustain damage caused by missile attacks. China's guided missiles are actually quite limited in their destructive power." Jan also expressed doubts that conscripts, who make up the bulk of Taiwan's armed forces, could properly operate the sophisticated Aegis technology.