July 18, 2018


Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, is a state in East Asia neighboring Japan and the People’s Republic of China. When the People’s Republic of China established control over mainland China following the Chinese Civil War, the ROC relocated its government to Taiwan and has remained there ever since. The PRC claims Taiwan as its province and denies its existence as a sovereign state. Due to the PRC’s refusal to maintain diplomatic relations with countries that recognize Taiwan, only 18 nations formally recognize the nation; [i] however, the US is one of the ROC’s main allies and has provided arms and training since 1979. [ii]

Taiwan is of strategic importance to the United States. Sitting just 100 miles from China, Taiwan is China’s closest link to the first island chain. Put differently, a Chinese-controlled Taiwan offers China the opportunity to forcefully assert its domination in Asia. For Taiwan to preserve its independence, it must be prepared to survive a naval and missile attack from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China. Missile defense capabilities are certainly necessary for its security. Still, the United State’s official position is “strategic ambiguity,” suggesting that it will not disclose whether or not it intends to defend the island. But on May 23, 2022, President Joe Biden told reporters that “Yes [I would defend Taiwan]. That’s the commitment we made.” [iii]

Taiwan’s Ballistic Missile Defense Capabilities

System Operator Number Deployed
Patriot/PAC-3 Taiwan Approx. seven batteries

Taiwan received three PAC-2 systems in 1997 and in 2001, these PAC-2 systems underwent upgrades to the more-capable PAC-3 missile defense system. In 2009, Taiwan procured four additional PAC-3 systems from the United States. Taiwan deploys these air and missile defense systems around the country’s capital, Taipei.

Taiwan’s Air Defense Capabilities

System Role Number Deployed Country of Origin
MIM-104 Patriot/PAC-2 Medium- to Long-Range Air Defense (PAC-2/GEM interceptors) Approx. seven batteries United States
Avenger Air Defense System Short-Range Air Defense Unknown United States
MIM-23 Hawk Medium-Range Air Defense Unknown United States
Tien-Kung  (Sky Bow) Short- to Long-Range Air Defense Unknown Taiwan
Sea Oryx

(Not Yet Deployed)

Short-Range Air Defense Unknown Taiwan
Tien Chien-2 (Sky Sword 2) Medium-Range Air Defense Unknown Taiwan

On May 19, 2022, it was announced that the Taiwanese military spent $146.14 million to set up 45 anti-drone defense systems around the island. Following reports that Chinese companies dominate the global market for small UAVs, the military saw it necessary to sign an agreement with the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) to develop anti-drone defense systems. A Chinese invasion of Taiwan would make use of these drones, so it is imperative that the Taiwanese military has the capability to destroy them. [iv]

Current Developments

Raytheon received a $685.7 million Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract to provide additional new Patriot missiles systems to Taiwan in 2011.[v]

In November 2016, the U.S. Air Force awarded Raytheon a $26 million contract to supply Taiwan with upgraded missile warning radar centers.[vi]

Raytheon was awarded a contract to provide engineering services for Patriot missile batteries operated by Taiwan, Kuwait, Spain, and Israel in January 2017. Work on the contract has an estimated completion date of December 31, 2018.[vii]

The Department of Defense announced, in July 2017, that Lockheed Martin Missile and Fire Control was awarded a $130.3 million foreign military sales contract for Patriot Advanced Capability-3 anti-ballistic missile systems. Taiwan was named one of the recipients of these systems.[viii]

It was announced in the Taipei-based China Times in February 2018 that the MIM-23 Hawk, a medium-range surface to air missile system designed in the 1950s would be deployed by the Taiwanese military. The system would be deployed along the Pacific coastline as a frontline defense against Chinese aircraft. The MIM-23 Hawks will be reinforced by highly mobile MIM-104 Patriots.[ix]

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