TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- As South Korea's defense ministry strives to complete the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system by the end of this year, Hong Kong media reports that the US military also plans to sell the system to Taiwan to jointly establish an East Asian "mini-NATO" anti-missile network with Japan and South Korea.
The Hong Kong-based magazine Asia Week (亞洲週刊) published excerpts of an article written by former Taiwanese naval commander Lu Li-shih (呂禮詩) titled, "U.S. Military Rumored to be Planning to Deploy THAAD System in Taiwan," asserting that in order to counter the ballistic missiles positioned in southern China aimed at Guam, Taiwan would be an ideal location to set up a THAAD system to intercept the Chinese missiles while still in the boost phase in the airspace over Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, and Nantou counties.
THAAD is an anti-ballistic missile system designed to shoot down short and medium range missiles by firing projectiles to intercept and destroy the incoming missiles with kinetic energy, thus minimizing the risk of the enemy warhead exploding.
According to Wendell Minnick from the US-based military news website Shephard, Taiwan intends to procure 150 F-35A conventional fighters and 60 short take-off/vertical landing F-35B stealth fighters to replace its aging Mirage 2000s, Indigenous Defense Fighters (IDF) fighters, and F-5 Tigers. But the US may use a shortfall in the number of F-35 fighters delivered as an excuse to recommend Taiwan buy the THAAD system.
The Asia Week article also speculated now that Japan and South Korea both appear to be receiving the THAAD system, the U.S. may be eyeing Taiwan next. In July of last year, South Korea agreed to the deployment of THAAD, while in November of last year, the Japanese Ministry of Defense also launched a study into adopting the system. The article also mentioned in the future, the Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance (AN/TPY-2) system built by U.S. defense contractor Raytheon may be deployed in Japan and South Korea along Beijing's so-called "first island chain" line of defense, and it is possible that the radar system could be positioned in Taiwan as well.