China: December 23, 2000

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Taiwan expects to buy the US-built Pave Paws early warning radar system (in a deal costing just over one billion dollars) as an alternative to the four Aegis destroyers which the Clinton Administration refused to sell them. The US has agreed to sell Pave Paws if an assessment by US Air Force officials shows that the existing Taiwan air defense network can be modified to integrate the new technology. Taiwan wants the new radars installed before its 2004 elections, as Taiwanese elections are a traditional time of cross-strait tensions. Pave Paws is an ultra-high-frequency system with a phased array radar capable of covering a vertical arc from 3 degrees to 85 degrees out to 3,000 nautical miles. It was designed to track ballistic missiles and has a limited capability to track satellites. China currently has 100 Dong Feng-11 and 300 Dong Feng-15 missiles pointed at Taiwan and is adding about 50 missiles per year. Pave Paws would give Taiwan six minutes of extra warning of a Chinese missile attack, although without interceptors better than its current Patriot-2s, this would have little real meaning.--Stephen V Cole

 

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