Taiwan announced on Thursday it had started trials of a long-range radar system that could alert authorities minutes sooner to a potential Chinese missile strike, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, Aug. 18).
Taiwanese Deputy Defense Minister Chao Shih-chang said installation of the Raytheon-manufactured early warning radar system was nearing completion.
"The radar system has undergone initial tests lately," Chao told lawmakers. "And the results showed that it has successfully linked to the Patriot anti-missile units and the Heng Shan [emergency] military command."
"This is the most advanced system of its kind in the world ... it is crucial as the Chinese communists are aiming at Taiwan with more than 1,000 ballistic missiles," Chao said.
The radar system is also able to pinpoint and track lower-flying cruise missiles, the deputy minister said.
Beijing claims sovereignty over the self-governing island and has threatened military action should Taipei attempt to assert full independence.
Opponents of the antimissile technology argue its approximately $1 billion price tag does not justify the six minute-earlier warning the system is designed to provide in the event of a missile assault.
Work on the state-of-the-art radar system had been put off for three years following infrastructure problems near its installation point (Agence France-Presse/Channel News Asia, Nov. 10).