Thursday, February 28, 2013

Richard Fisher Presentation on Taiwan Defense Posture

Mr. Richard Fisher

  Richard Fisher Presentation on "Reassessing Taiwan's Strategic Position"

          On January 23rd, George Washington University hosted a Taiwan round table regarding the state of Taiwan's strategic position in the East Asian region.  During the event, there was an unexpected interruption (false fire alarm), and as a result Mr. Richard Fisher, a Senior Fellow of Asian military affairs at the International Assessment and Strategy Center was unable to give his presentation.  Fortunately, the Sigur Center for Asian Studies at GW was kind enough to send out Mr. Fisher's planned remarks to those who attended.

     The following remarks are from that presentation by Mr. Fisher:

     In addition to calling for sustained, large ROC ground forces, Fisher also advocates for robust development of Taiwan's indigenous surface-to-surface missile program. He notes that Taiwan's surface-to-surface missiles can be armed with sensors to create Sensor Fused Munitions (SFMs), a type of weapon that has the potential to destroy as many as thirty tanks or thirty invasion ships through the shooting of explosive metal disks. Fisher argues Taiwan's possession of SFMs would allow it to confront most PLA invasion forces in a cost-effective manner: for the cost of 15 new F-16 C/D fighter jets, Taiwan can pay for up to 1,000 SFMs.

Text from Mr. Fisher's Powerpoint Presentation (Pictures added by blog author) 

 The Advantages of Missiles For Taiwan

Taipei does not need to be sold on the advantages of having its own attack missile force.  Since the late 1990s Taiwan has been developing the HF-2E land attack cruise missile, the HF-3 supersonic anti-ship missile, and according to recent reports, the 1,200km range Yunfeng/Cloud Peak missile.

The US has aided the development of Taiwan’s Ray Ting RT2000 artillery rocket system, which can fire a 240 mm rocket to 45km.  This is similar to the early M26A1 version of the Lockheed-Martin M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS).  The U.S. has also sold Taiwan over 300 of the ship-launched124km range RGM-84 and the185km range air-launched AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile.  However,  until recently the U.S. considered that longer-range missiles did not fall under the TRA definition of “defensive” weapons.  But this is a semantic luxury as the PLA’s overall military advantages increase.  


MTCR compatible (300km range) missiles offer numerous asymmetric advantages:  1) cost much less than combat aircraft; 2) are difficult to detect and shoot down;  3) attacking missiles can overwhelm missile defenses at less expense; 4) can produce strategic results with tactical means—short range attack missiles can degrade the PLA’s SAM belt near Taiwan, allowing the Taiwan Air Force to fly more missions; and can be configured to carry scores of warheads to start to regain the advantages of “mass” versus the PLA; plus 5) they can also force the PLA to stage its invasion forces further from Taiwan, which will have the effect of greatly increasing the operational risks to these invasion force. 

The U.S. could opt to sell the 90km range version of the M270 artillery rocket, that would give the Taiwan Army far greater depth from which to counter PLA invasion forces.  From Penghu this missile could cover many PLA SAM bases opposite Taiwan.  In addition, the US could also sell the 300km range Lockheed-Martin MGM-140 ATACMS short-range ballistic missile (@ $1 million each). This missile could also be configured with many accurate submunitions that could be used to attack more SAM sites in Fujian Province or to counter invasion forces gathering in Fujian Province, and is survivable by virtue of its being land-based and highly maneuverable for a missile. Boeing’s concept for a Joint Air Breathing Multirole Missile (JABMM-on the right), offers to greatly reduce the cost for anti-air, anti-ship and ground attack missiles.  

  Missile Technology Taiwan Could Use:  Sensor Fused Munitions

If the U.S. opts not to sell Taiwan 300km range missiles or Taiwan opts to develop its own class of long range interdiction missiles, the U.S. can also consider selling Taiwan a new class of submunition that would greatly enhance the lethality and asymmetric advantage of its missiles:  Sensor Fused Munitions (SFMs).

SFMs offer the potential to give Taiwan the kind of “mass” that the PLA cannot defeat.  In 2010 the U.S. decided to sell India over 20,000 Textron SFMs  (500+ CBU-105 bombs with 40x SFMs each) for a cost of about $300 million, or less than the cost of 4x F-16C/D fighters.  SFMs can be delivered by air-dropped bombs, artillery rockets, artillery shells, SRBMs, cruise missiles and unmanned aircraft.   

Sensor Fused Munitions (SFM) 

Developed by the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s (and by Russia at the same time, and then by the PRC in this last decade), SFMs are small air-delivered projectiles that combine a “smart” sensor (laser , infrared, millimeter wave radar) able to find a target and its heat source, and then fire an explosively formed metal disc, copper or tantalum, at a high supersonic speed so that it can slice through a tank engine.  If accurately placed a SFM could also disable a ship.  The only defense against this weapon is to attack its carrying platform in the air or on the ground.   Defeating launched SFM munitions would require a laser-based system that may not emerge for many years.  The PLA’s SFM program was led by Yang Shaoqing, a 1984 engineering graduate of Texas A&M University (picture on bottom right).  

20,000 SFMs would have the potential to destroy most of a 1,000+ ship PLA invasion fleet and most of the heavy armored vehicles that would succeed in landing on Taiwan.  Would such a capability then deter a PLA attack for many years into the future?

     US Options To Deter China In The Medium Term

If the U.S. is going to continue to deter China, there must be consideration of not just the adequate funding of currently planned force and modernization levels, but there must also be consideration of significant new capabilities.  But in doing so, the U.S. must also consider the value of current policies of restraint, such has its adherence to the INF Treaty, and restrictions on the sale of new weapons systems and also what it sells to Taiwan.  But by significantly raising the cost of aggression it is possible to show Beijing the advantages of wider negotiated regimes of assurance.  

New Regional Sensor Network

A network of long-range APAR and OTH radar, with inputs from 
satellites and ELINT/SIGINT , that due to its central location would
also include Taiwan,  could potentially give network contributors a 
total view of most observable PLA activities.  This enhances deterrence 
by providing warning and some assurance of sensor coverage in case
of attack.

New intermediate-to-short range ballistic missiles
The PLA’s ever increasing arsenal of theater missiles has made reliance
on “anti-missiles” insufficient.  Consistent with the emphasis on “payloads,”
there is now a need for a new U.S. and Allied network of intermediate-to-short
range ballistic missiles that can assure significant destruction of the PLA Navy, 
PLA invasion forces, space, and critical coastal region targets.  Initially this 
should be a non-nuclear armed missile network.

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