US SAID SET TO SELL 4 AEGIS WARSHIPS TO TAIWAN FOR TMD
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US SAID SET TO SELL 4 AEGIS WARSHIPS TO TAIWAN FOR TMD

Taipei, Jan. 9 (CNA) The United States has reportedly agreed to sell four Berker Class Guided Missile AEGIS warships equipped with a new theater missile defense system (TMD) for naval use to Taiwan, a senior adviser to the Republic of China President said on Sunday.

Chen Pi-chao, a member of the Consultant Committee of the National Security Council under the control of the Presidential Office, made the statement at a seminar held by the Taiwan General Research Institute on the evaluation of the comparative military strengths of Taiwan and mainland China.

The new theater missile defense system will reportedly be used for naval defense, thereby boosting Taiwan's missile defense capability, Chen said.

Beijing is expected to step up the pace of its missile buildup in the coming years, Chen pointed out, adding that by 2010, Beijing will have deployed 900 M-9 guided missiles and more M-11 guided missiles in areas across the strait from Taiwan.

These mainland missiles will target Taiwan's missile bases and air defense system, war operation command centers, air force bases and naval ports, Chen said.

According to Chen, the theater missile defense system is comprised of two classes, one for land use and one for naval use. Chen also disclosed that Washington has also agreed to sell the medium-range air-to-air missile AIM-120, to be equipped on US made F-16 jet fighters to bolster Taiwan's air defense capability.

The report showed that the AEGIS warship, which has 8,000 replacement tons, will be equipped with 92 standard Model 2 missiles, eight fishing spear missiles, six MK32 torpedoes, and cruise missiles.

National Defense Minister Tang Fei, however, refused to confirm or deny the report, saying that Taipei and Washington had signed an agreement on military weapon sales which limited the government from disclosing or confirming any details of arms sales before a final decision is made.

The proposed military transaction will cost over NT$400 billion and this new spending will require the approval of the Legislative Yuan, Tang said.

Asked whether the Ministry of Defense had prepared countermeasures to the declaration by Beijing's Deputy Premier that the mainland has 18 measures for coping with Taiwan's upcoming presidential election, Tang said that Taiwan also has 18 measures against Beijing's measures. (By Edward Chen)