Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Taiwan Air Force upgrading ‘Skyguard’ system

One defense analyst has called the upgrade the best development in the nation’s point defenses against precision-guided munitions

Taiwan’s ability to defend itself against Chinese aircraft and missile attacks is expected to receive a shot in the arm following the scheduled completion next year of an upgrade program for its “Skyguard” short-range air defense system.

As part of the three-year, NT$3.08 billion (US$101.6 million) “Tian Wu 7” (天武7) air defense upgrade program launched in 2009, Taiwan’s air force has been converting the GDF-003 Oerlikon 35mm twin cannons that are part of the Skyguard Air Defense System to a GDF-006 configuration, which will use Advanced Hit Efficiency And Destruction (AHEAD) munitions to shoot down manned aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles, air-to-ground missiles and other targets.

Each AHEAD round consists of a shell filled with 152 tungsten pellets with a small programmable charge timed to detonate several meters in front of the target, sending an expanding cone of pellets forward to destroy the incoming projectile.

According to this month’s edition of the Chinese-language Asia-Pacific Defense Magazine, the air force has 24 “Sky Sentinel” radar units and 50 Oerlikon 35mm twin cannons. Each barrel can fire 550 rounds per minute at an altitude of about 4km and within a range of 8.5km.

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.


Michael Fagan said...

"Contacted for comment on the upgrade, Rick Fisher... said switching to AHEAD rounds was “a critical improvement for Taiwan’s anti-aircraft defenses.”

Yes, but what about the numbers - specifically, the fact that we have only 50 of these things?

How effective would this number of upgraded cannons be (i.e. at destroying warheads, not merely knocking out missiles) relative to what proportion of a PLA salvo would be likely to penetrate Taiwan's outer air defences.

Simplifying somewhat: at 20 rounds per target, from 50 units firing 1000 rounds per min at an incoming salvo of 1000 missiles... that's 100 targets taken out per minute assuming 100% effectiveness. So if say, half of that missile salvo were to penetrate, the cannons would knock out, at best, 20% of the remaining targets.

(Incidentally - I see someone noticed and corrected your "multiplayer national air defense" slip.)

J. Michael Cole 寇謐將 said...

@Mike: Your scenario is based on two questionable assumptions, which are:

(a) that the 2nd Arty would fire such a large number of missiles at once or within a short period of time, which in highly unlikely, except in a last-resort cataclysmic situation; and

(b) that other lines of defense (e.g., Tien Kung I/IIs, PAC-2/3s and other missile defense systems, have all failed.

I haven't been able to get a clear answer on the number of artillery pieces that are to be upgraded in total. Getting odd German music when I call the firm in Europe and e-mail queries have gone unanswered.

Yeah, I fixed that unfortunate layer/player error the moment I got to the office today...

Michael Fagan said...

"Your scenario is based on two questionable assumptions..."

I was using them to illustrate the point of my question, i.e. is the number of cannon we have adequate anyway, even with the upgrade for all fifty?

On the first assumption - it was a convenient number, but perhaps you could give me a more realistic one?

On the second assumption - yes, but again that's because I'm not in a position to estimate the effectiveness of the outer layer systems.

"Getting odd German music when I call the firm in Europe and e-mail queries have gone unanswered."

Careful, there's nothing "odd" about the Germans!