US Think Tank Suggestions on Taiwan Military Draw Suspicion

US Think Tank Suggestions on Taiwan Military Draw Suspicion
Photo Credit: Reuters / 達志影像

Translated and compiled by Yuan-ling Liang

Rand Corporation, an analysis think tank supported by the Pentagon, recently issued a report, “Air Defense Options for Taiwan,” suggesting that Taiwan should reduce its budget on military aircrafts and emphasize more on missiles.

The preface of the report points out that Taiwan’s relationship and geographic condition with China lead to one of the most complicated air defense problems in the world. Since China has built systems that threaten Taiwan’s military aircrafts, the level of PLA’s (People’s Liberation Army) defense facilities surpasses that in Taiwan. If a military conflict takes place, Taiwan’s aircrafts would be completely destroyed.

According to the report, Taiwan’s fighter force is less capable than China’s and even outnumbered in the air. The island’s ground force is also by far too vulnerable.

Defense News reports, the report lists four alternative options for Taiwan, one of which suggests that Taiwan should increase its expense on surface-to-air missiles, which China still has difficulty countering. The Rand Corporation even recommends Taiwan eliminate all the IDFs (the Indigenous Defense Fighter, also known as the Ching-kuo Hao) and Mirage 2000-5s (a type of jet fighter) and keep only the F-16 MLUs (a type of jet fighter). By doing so, there would be extra expenses for missiles or developing “Air Defense Platoons,” a tactical unit that serves as a combat support force.

An excuse for not selling F-35s to Taiwan?

Lin Yu-Fang, former Taiwanese legislator, states that the Rand Corporation is a think tank highly related to the US government, so the report represents the opinions of US officials to some extent. Lin also says that the report emphasizes too much on air defense, “It is probably making up an excuse for not selling F-35s and submarines to Taiwan,” he says.

Wei Hao-chen, editor-in-chief of the Military Link magazine, a Taiwanese magazine that reports military-related news and information, says that the missiles indeed perform better than aircrafts. However, when war breaks out, the aircrafts are still irreplaceable since they have the use of preemptive strike and deterrence while landing.

Erich Shih, an expert on Taiwanese military, says that huge reduction in aircrafts is inappropriate, but a moderate decrease is favored. “If reduction is necessary, the Dassault Mirage 2000s (a type of jet fighter) is first on the list. They cost too much to operate and can only accomplish missions in the air.”

Luo Shou-he, spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense, states that the ministry appreciates and respects the Rand Corporation’s suggestions.

“Our responsibility is to maintain the country’s security. We will evaluate the environment accurately and take several factors into consideration upon planning our strategies,” says Luo.

Edited by Olivia Yang

“Rand Report Spells Doom For Taiwan" (Defense News)
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