TAIWAN IS SIGNALLING strong interest in the Loral Vought Systems PAC-3 Extended Range Interceptor (ERINT) missile, following China's recent series of offshore theatre-ballistic-missile (TBM) test firings.

Taiwanese military officials have been briefed on the PAC-3's anti-ballistic missile capability and commonality with the Raytheon Patriot PAC-2 system, which is on order.

According to local defence sources, the test firing of six Chinese M9 TBMs into the East China Sea, 150km (95 miles) north of Taiwan, has highlighted the island's lack of effective defence.

The air force is understood to be particularly concerned about the vulnerability of its airbases and other air-defence installations to surface-to-surface missile strikes.

Taiwan is also modifying its Sky Bow II system to give it an anti-theatre ballistic-missile capability (Flight International, 30 November-7 December 1994).

Both systems, however, rely on blast fragmentation to destroy targets and are limited in their effectiveness, particularly against smart and unconventional warheads.

Taiwan is considering upgrading its PAC-2 with the ERINT missile, once it is available after 1998.

Source: Flight International