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TAIWAN LOOKS TO BUY MORE PATRIOT MISSILES

12/15/98 [CNA Taipei]

Taiwan is seeking to purchase additional Patriot defense systems to enhance its anti-missile capability, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense confirmed on Tuesday. Taiwan already has three sets of the US-made Patriot anti-missile systems deployed in the northern part of the island. If the purchase goes through as planned, the new missiles will be deployed in the central and southern parts of the island, Major General Chiang Ming, a senior ministry official, said. Mainland Chinese missiles still pose a great threat to Taiwan, he said, "But it would be the people's psychology that is the most fragile in case of a Beijing missile attack." Beijing's missile test-firings in waters around Taiwan in the run-up to Taiwan's presidential election in early 1996 caused panic in the island, sending the local foreign exchange and stock markets into a dive. The mainland's middle-range M-family missiles is currently the greatest threat to Taiwan, but such missiles would cause only limited damage to the island, Chiang said. For example, an M-family missile with a 500 kg warhead would create a hole only 10 meters in depth and 20 meters in width after hitting the ground. If were the case, it would take at least 50 missiles to destroy a military airport, he explained. Currently, Beijing owns 200 M-9 (DF-15) missiles and 48 M-11 (DF-11) missiles, which have a range of 600 kilometers and 300 kilometers, respectively.