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Japan, Taiwan Upgrade Strike Capability

May. 7, 2013 - 11:13AM   |  
By WENDELL MINNICK and PAUL KALLENDER-UMEZU   |   Comments
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TAIPEI AND TOKYO — Japan’s main movements on precision strike involve upgrading its Mitsubishi F-2 fighter jet fleet with Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) capability, and working on a more accurate surface-to-surface missile.

Taiwan, meanwhile, is pushing forward on a variety of secret missile programs designed to punish mainland China for daring to cross the center line of the Taiwan Strait. These include a new land-attack cruise missile, medium-range ballistic missile, and two new anti-ship missiles powered by ramjets.

Japan is focused on deterring and defending against raids by foreign guerrillas and special operations forces, with JDAMs considered a useful tool against such forces. Since 2011, the Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) has been steadily adding JDAM capability to its F-2 fighter, spending ¥2.1 billion (US $21.4 million) to equip 12 fighters with JDAM kits in 2011, ¥2.8 billion in 2012 for 20 fighters, and ¥1.3 billion this year to equip an undisclosed number of F-2s.

Defense Ministry spokesman Takaaki Ohno said the MoD plans to equip its F-2s with what it calls “JDAM capability.”

Unconfirmed Japanese press reports say the JDAM kits are for Mk-82 225-kilogram bombs. Japan’s fleet of F-2s also carries a range of free-fall bombs with GCS-1 IIR seeker heads. The ASDF’s fleet consists of 63 F-2s and about 150 Mitsubishi F-15J and 45 F-15DJ Eagles, and it still flies around 80 aging Phantom F-4s of various stripes.

The MoD is spending ¥1.3 billion to develop a surface-to-surface missile with improved guidance and extended range to succeed the Type-90 surface-to-surface missile. To reduce cost, the missile will be developed based on the Ground Self-Defense Force’s Type-12 surface-to-ship missile. The missile can be guided by updated target information from helicopters. The Type-90 ship-to-ship missile is a 260-kilogram solid-propellant and ship-launched variant of the turbojet engine-propelled 150-200 kilometer range SSM-1.

Taiwan's Missile Confusion

In Taiwan, the Cloud Peak missile program is a land-based, supersonic, anti-ship missile system, according to a Taiwan defense analyst with close ties to the Ministry of National Defense (MND).The news is contrary to previous media reports that Cloud Peak is the same as the medium-range ballistic-missile (MRBM) program or that it is the new land-attack cruise missile (LACM).

The MND did not respond to requests for further program information.

The defense analyst said the MRBM project exists but is a separate program.

“Don’t know its current project name. It’s been changed many times since the early 2000s, when it was originally known as Ti Ching, which literally meant ‘Distant Pacified,’ ” which is traditionally associated with barbarians to the far west of China, the analyst said.

Cloud Peak is an extended-range supersonic anti-ship cruise missile, based on a much enlarged version of the Hsiung Feng-3 anti-ship missile, intended to be land-based and used against invasion fleets from China’s southeastern coast, he said.

“In fact, this is the production project name for the system formerly known by the code name for its base construction project: Hsiang Yang or Xiangyang,” he said.

The Cloud Peak’s range and payload capabilities fall well under Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) Category 1 limitations, “so I doubt it would attract significant US opposition just yet,” he said.

The MTCR is a voluntary partnership among nations to stop the proliferation of missile technology allowing for payloads of 500 kilograms and a range of 300 kilometers.

The Taiwan source said the Obama administration wants to distance itself from major new Taiwan arms sales and “has been urging Taiwan to go asymmetric.” The US government will “basically try to stay out of Taiwan’s way, so long as Taipei keeps any such counterstrike projects low-key.”

Despite Taiwan’s best efforts to develop precision strike weapons, the source said Taiwan could not defeat an all-out Chinese attack.

China has roughly 1,500 Dong Feng 11/15 short-range ballistic missiles targeting the island and an unknown number of LACMs, according to Pentagon estimates.

Taiwan has also begun fielding its first LACM, the Hsiung Feng 2E. The Missile Command’s 601 Group has three squadrons of the system deployed in ground-mobile launchers. In photos widely published throughout the Internet, the launchers are painted pastel blue and disguised as “Red Bird Express” delivery trucks.

Taiwan’s Navy has begun fielding its first ramjet supersonic anti-ship missile, the Hsiung Feng 3, aboard its Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, and might also deploy it on the Lafayette and Knox-class frigates, MND sources said. Known as the “carrier killer,” it has a range of 150 to 200 kilometers.

The objective is “to complicate Chinese strategic calculations by raising the strategic uncertainty of military action against the island, to disrupt the tempo of People’s Liberation Army operations, thereby mitigating their intended effects and affording Taiwan more time to seek outside assistance/intervention,” the Taiwan defense analyst said.■

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