Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hundreds of missiles placed ‘on hold’ as Taiwan awaits US investigation

A RIM-7 Sparrow SAM fires at Jiupeng in January 2011
To fill the gap, the Air Force will reportedly provide two additional battalions with Antelope systems, which are equipped with the Tien Chien I missile 

Several hundred AIM/RIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles (SAM) used by the air force have been categorized as “for emergency use only” after three of the US-made missiles encountered technical failures during an exercise in January last year that left the military embarrassed. 

Following the exercise, in which one RIM-7 climbed about 200m into the air before plummeting into the South China Sea, while another RIM-7 and one AIM-7 missed their targets, the military requested that US military personnel and Raytheon Corp, maker of the missile, investigate the reasons for the failures. 

The Sparrow is a medium-range, all-weather and semi-active guided missile. Six hundred AIM-7Ms were part of a 1992 deal in which Taiwan procured 150 F-16A/Bs. For its part, the RIM-7 SAM is used on towed launchers as part of the Skyguard Air Defense System. Five hundred entered service in 1991. 

As Taiwan awaits a response, the air force has suspended the test-firing of Sparrow missiles, citing safety concerns. 

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

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