|A RIM-7 Sparrow SAM fires at Jiupeng in January 2011|
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.