Thursday, December 24, 2009

Taiwan needs much more Patriot-3 missiles

Patriot 3 missile@peter peng blog

Dec. 24, 2009, Taiwan's Central News Agency reported that the U.S. Raytheon Company has received the contracts to upgrade Taiwan's three existing Patriot-2 missile defense systems to Patriot 3s. The contracts with total value of 1.1 billion U.S. dollars comprise of a 965.6 million contract on hardware of the ground system and a 134.4 million contract on spare parts.

The upgrade plan certainly caused strong opposition from Beijing, because the upgrade will allegedly quintuple the combat abilities of the relevant Patriot systems.

Because the PAC-3 warhead uses Ka Band Active Radar Seeker homing itself to directly hit the target, it carries much less explosive than a PAC-2 warhead triggered by a proximity-fuse once it comes near the target. This improvement on less explosive in the warhead significantly reduced the size of a PAC-3 missile.

Due to miniaturization of the missiles, a single canister can hold four PAC-3 missiles as opposed to one canister per PAC-2 missile. Therefore, one PAC-3 system (four canisters) can totally hold 16 PAC-3 missiles, as one PAC-2 system is only able to hold four PAC-2 missiles.

The other advantages of a PAC-3 missile system include a better missile-maneuverability caused by dozens of tiny rocket motors mounted in the fore body of the missile (called Attitude Control Motors), better software, and a better communication setup than that of a PAC-2 system.

Although the PAC-3 system has allegedly quintupled its capability on anti-ballistic missiles after being upgraded from PAC-2, three such existing systems in Taiwan are obviously impossible to block pending saturate-attacks of 1,600 ballistic missiles aiming at Taiwan from China recently. Taiwan certainly needs much more Patriot-3 missiles, as long as U.S. could sell it with a little cheaper price.