Taiwan fills up with super-precise missiles for its F-16s


The US Navy’s most accurate surface attack missile arrives in the Taiwan Strait, news reports say. And that could be a big deal for China.

A major arms market that made its way into the US government’s export bureaucracy would include $ 3 million extended response ranged ground attack missiles, or SLAM-ERs.

The Boeing

BA
-the manufactured ammunition, a derivative of the Harpoon anti-ship missile, can strike targets on land and at sea “beyond” 135 miles, according to the US Navy. “The SLAM-ER is extremely precise and has the best [circular error probable] in the US Navy inventory.

The probable circular error, or CEP, is the radius of a circle centered on the target within which half of a given missile type is expected to impact. The Navy did not disclose the SLAM-ER CEP, but it should be noted that Lockheed Martin’s

LMT
a similar joint air-to-surface missile has a CEP or about 10 feet.

Reuters and The New York Times

NYT
first reported on the possible arms sale, which requires the approval of the US State Department and the US Congress and would, of course, depend on Taipei’s ability to finance the purchases.

The weapon set would include a wide array of precision-guided, long-range missiles, as well as rocket launchers, Reaper surveillance drones, and sea mines. Previous US-Taiwan arms deals included F-16 fighters, M-1 tanks, and air defense missiles.

Air-launched SLAM-ER missiles and ground-launched Harpoon missiles are arguably the most important – and, for China, provocative – weapons in the current deal. “Taiwan is finally buying what it really needs to implement its asymmetric defense strategy,” Evan Medeiros, a security expert at Georgetown University, Recount The New York Times.

Taiwan had previously planned to send large warships to fight an invading Chinese fleet a hundred miles or more off the Taiwanese coast, but China’s massive shipbuilding made that approach impractical, if not suicidal, for the Taiwanese navy.

The Taiwanese military is now planning to go into hiding and launch missiles at the Chinese invaders. In addition to purchasing Harpoon and SLAM-ER missiles from the United States, Taipei has developed its own anti-ship and ground attack missiles, including several models that could strike Chinese forces on the mainland.

The Taiwan Air Force’s growing fleet of improved F-16s is likely the primary launch pad for the Harpoon and SLAM-ER missiles. Harpoon has a tiny radar in his nose for terminal guidance. SLAM-ER has an infrared seeker. But both ammunition require spotting. In other words, you have to know where to point them.

Which means Taiwan’s surveillance capabilities are inseparable from its missile capabilities. It is not for nothing that when the Taiwanese Air Force deployed F-16s armed with harpoons Towards the outer Penghu Islands in response to China’s naval mobilization in August, the Taiwanese fleet simultaneously sent small Albatross drones to neighboring Pratas Islands.

If the proposed arms deal is reached, the F-16s could deploy with the SLAM-ERs. And bigger Reaper drones could replace the Albatrosses.

It is true that China is building one of the largest and most modern fleets in the world. But Taipei isn’t just waiting for this fleet to sail across the Taiwan Strait and land troops. It is building its own surveillance and strike system, a system that could strike Chinese ships – and the land bases that support them – hundreds of kilometers off the Taiwanese coast.

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