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Taiwan Air Defense Overview

The Improved HAWK (I-HAWK) SAM system remains the mainstay of Taiwan's air defense. It is a medium-range, low- to medium-altitude system, designed to defend fixed and mobile assets from high speed aircraft. The standard I-HAWK site consists of a pulse acquisition radar, a continuous wave acquisition radar, a high power illuminating target tracking radar, a range-only radar, and six three-missile launchers.

Taipei also has deployed an indigenously-produced SAM--the Tien Kung or Sky Bow-- designed to replace the recently retired NIKE-HERCULES system. The Tien Kung is a medium-to-long range system, reportedly based on early versions of the U.S. PATRIOT. The Tien Kung-I is a single-stage, solid-propellant missile. It is deployed in two configurations: as a mobile, containerized system employing a quad-box launcher similar in appearance to the M901 PATRIOT missile launcher and as a fixed, silo-launched SAM.

A follow-on variant, the Tien Kung-II, is configured as a fixed, two-stage, single-rail or silo-launched system. For target acquisition, tracking, and mid-course missile guidance requirements, the Tien Kung employs a multifunction, phased-array radar with associated fire-control computer system and a continuous wave dish antenna illuminator which are tied into the radar in order to allow multiple target engagement.

As an initial response to the emerging missile threat, Taiwan has purchased the Modified Air Defense System (MADS), an improved variant of the PATRIOT surface-to-air missile (SAM) system which was used during DESERT STORM. The MADS, which began arriving on Taiwan in 1997, is deployed around heavily populated Taipei.

Short-range air defense coverage is provided primarily by the CHAPARRAL and the SKYGUARD systems. The CHAPARRAL consists of four modified AIM-9C SIDEWINDER missiles mounted on a tracked vehicle. The SKYGUARD is an integrated air defense system consisting of a modified AIM-7M/SPARROW AAM and a 35 mm AAA gun. Taiwan is expected to procure the STINGER/AVENGER SAM system. It is a pedestal mounted system with two pods--each with four STINGER missiles--mounted on the back of a High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV).

Taiwan's Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST) has developed and publicly displayed a new tactical air defense which it has dubbed the ANTELOPE. According to promotional brochures, work on the ANTELOPE began in July 1995 as a direct by-product of the Tien Chien-I IR AAM. According to CSIST, the ANTELOPE consists of a target acquisition system, communication components, an operational control system, a carrier, and four 18-km maximum range Tien Chien-I missiles. It can be used to intercept low-flying helicopters, fighter aircraft, attack aircraft, and bombers and can be installed on a midsize truck or HMMWV.

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Created by John Pike
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Updated Tuesday, April 04, 2000 5:20:57 AM