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Military scholar highlights importance of Taiwan's Leshan radar station

Ou Hsi-fu says radar station provides crucial early warning in event of Chinese missile attack

PAVE PAWS radar. 

PAVE PAWS radar.  (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Institute for National Defense and Security Research scholar Ou Hsi-fu (歐錫富) pointed out Sunday (Nov. 29) that as the South China Sea becomes a sanctuary for China’s nuclear submarines, the Leshan radar station in Taiwan’s Hsinchu is increasingly important in terms of detecting and early warning in the event of a Chinese attack.

China’s coastal waters include the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea. Ou noted that Chinese submarines departing for the Pacific Ocean from the Yellow or East China Seas will inevitably pass through Japan’s Ryukyu Islands, where the U.S. and Japanese militaries are highly vigilant. Therefore, the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea are not suitable for a submarine base, CNA cited him as saying.

Meanwhile, neighboring countries in the South China Sea are considerably weaker, Ou pointed out. This is the main reason for the People’s Liberation Army Navy's (PLAN) establishment of a submarine base on the island province of Hainan.

Beijing has also built artificial islands in the region, constructing facilities such as runways, ports, radars, and air defense systems to protect its underwater vessels. Ou stated that although the upgraded Julang-2 submarine cannot attack the U.S. mainland, it can target Guam and American bases in Japan.

He added that in the future, PLAN Type 096 submarines equipped with JL-3 ballistic missiles could be deployed to directly threaten the U.S.

Ou then said that the Leshan radar station, which is located at an altitude of 2,500 meters, will buy valuable time in which to counter any missile launched from a PLAN submarine in the South China Sea.

Sold to Taiwan in 2000, the Cold War-era U.S. AN/FPS-115 PAVE PAWS radar has been operational since 2013. The world-class early warning radar is capable of detecting any aircraft or missile within 5,000 kilometers; given its high location, it can also track surface ships.

Ou said the radar system is believed to relay various detection and tracking data back to the U.S. in real-time, though there has been no confirmation of this. Nevertheless, he said that without Taiwan, the U.S. will not be able to effectively deter the Chinese threat.

He concluded by saying the radar station is an indispensable strategic facility that must be defended.