Military plans to test Patriot system today

Hsieh Kuo-lien, The China Post

The military plans to test the U.S.-made Patriot anti-missile defense system today on a base in Pingtung County, southern Taiwan, it will be the first such test conducted outside the United States. Military spokesman Major General Huang Suey-sheng told reporters yesterday at a news conference that “all our armed forces’ weapons will be tested after being equipped. And all the live-fire tests will be conducted in annual military exercises.” “Patriot missiles would not be an exception,” the general said. “We have been quite successful in preparing for the live-fire tests of the Patriot missiles, the implementation of relevant plans and the evaluation of the missiles’ functions, have gone as expected,” Huang said. The missile troops responsible for testing the Patriot system have entered the Chiupeng base in Pingtung County.

Huang said the area that is close to the missiles’ targets will be blocked during the live-fire tests, while all vessels and aircraft will be barred from entering the target area, which lies off the island’s southeast coast. Although the Ministry of National Defense declined to formally confirm the dates of the test, an advisory issued by the forces and the Civil Aeronautics Administration said the target area would be blocked between June 20 and 22, and on 26. Local media reported that a group of U.S. missile experts have entered the Chiupeng base. They would conduct evaluation on the system’s functions and provide guidance to the missile troops during the test. The Army plans to fire target missiles today from a base in Chengkung township, Taitung County, eastern Taiwan, before the missile troops on the Chiupeng base fire the Patriot missiles to shoot down the targets. The test would be aimed at evaluating the Patriot’s functions and the missile troops’ combat capability. Although Taiwan forces have barred the press from entering the base to witness the process, the test’s results are expected to be made available to the public in the near future. Hoping for success in the test, Taiwan forces consider the test-fire an key breakthrough in the Taiwan-U.S. military exchanges. If the Army succeeds in the live-fire test, the Patriot will become the country’s most powerful defense system that is capable to defend the Chinese communist military’s ballistic missiles, which have been deployed along mainland China’s southeast coast.