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.