Taiwan's Approaches in dealing with the Lizard's LACMs ...
Taiwan’s Strategy on Cruise Missile Defense
Holmes LIAO, Ph.D. Advisor Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Taiwan is not in the best position to observe the recent U.S. war on Iraq. Lacking first-hand observation and relying solely on public reports, any attempts to draw critical lessons from the campaign would fail miserably. Therefore, rather than reiterating voluminous record of conclusions drawn by others, I would instead concentrate on the emerging threat that Taiwan faces—China’s land attack cruise missiles (LACMs).
In the past, discussions about China’s missiles have primarily focused on its ballistic missile forces. Deployed PLA ballistic missiles include submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), such as CSS-N-3/JL-1, intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), such as CSS-4/DF-5, intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), such as CSS-3/DF-4, medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM), such as CSS-5/DF-21, and
short-range ballistic missile (SRBM), such as CSS-6/M-9 and CSS-7/M-11.
While ballistic missiles are tools for political intimidation and coercion, they are generally more costly and less accurate than cruise missiles with the same range. China’s LACM Capabilities The PLA must have learned the lessons of the U.S. Tomahawk LACM, which demonstrated its lethal capability in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. The tremendous
success of this potent weapon seems to be an incentive for China to acquire LACM capabilities. LACMs have evolved and improved immensely since the German V-1’s first use in London towards the end of World War II. Modern LACM capabilities include low-altitude flight profile, long standoff ranges, all-aspect attack, small radar cross section, low infrared signature, variable launch options, not to mention its
1. Anthony Cordesman, “The Lessons of the Iraq War,” CSIS, July 2003.
2 .Ted Carpenter, “Avoiding Bogus Lessons from the Iraq War,” CATO Institute, April 2003.
3 .John Ferris, “A New American Way of War? C4ISR in Operation Iraqi Freedom, A Provisional
Assessment,” Center for Military and Strategic Studies, University of Calgary, 2003.
4.James Dunnigan, “Why American Infantry Casualties Were so Low,” Strategy Page, May 2003.
As shown in the above-mentioned wars, sophisticated LACMs are capable of striking targets across the full depth of the battlefield. Missions of LACMs may include destroying seaports or airfields to prevent entry and expansion, striking valuable targets such as headquarters, logistical depots, and command and control posts. Additionally, they can prevent or limit movement of maneuvering forces. Consequently, PLA’s ballistic missiles and future LACM forces can be used to open the way for follow-on operations, thereby playing a critical role in its military campaign and complicating the tasks of Taiwan’s defending forces.
In order to boost its credibility in precision engagement and strategic deterrence, the PLA has given the development of LACMs a high priority for theater and strategic missions. China already has a number of anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCM), either through direct purchase from foreign countries or indigenous development.
Indigenous PLA ASCMs currently in service at least include: HY-2/C-201 [CSS-N-3 Silkworm], HY-3/C-301 [CSS-X-6 Sawhorse], YJ-1/C-801 [CSS-N-4 Sardine], and YJ-2/C-802 [CSS-X-8 Saccade] . China also imported Raduga 3M-80 [SS-N-22 Sunburn] supersonic ASCMs from Russia along with four Sovremenny-class destroyers and Zezda Strela Kh-31A [AS-17 Krypton] ASCMs to equip Sukhoi Su-30 multi-role combat aircraft. With improvements in propulsion and guidance technologies and by modifying existing ASCMs, China will have little difficulty to
In September 2001, Washington Times reported that U.S.
intelligence equipment detected a PLA test of a new LACM that is believed to be an extended-range version of an ASCM.
Open source information on China’s LACM is sketchy and often contains accounts of uncertain reliability. Chinese LACM research and development efforts are aided by aggressive acquisition of foreign technology and subsystems, particularly from Russia. Similar to Russian Kh-101 strategic LACM, the Chinese version is expected to employ technologies such as GLONASS/GPS/Inertial mid-course guidance and most critically, terrain counter matching (TERCOM) technology for terminal guidance to
increase its precision.
China reportedly transported cruise missile production facilities from Russia to a location in the vicinity of Shanghai in 1993, and recruited cruise missile engineering 5 At least one extended range version YJ-2 is under development and may become China's first air-launched subsonic LACM.2
Specialists from Russia in 1995.
Some reports also indicated that China has obtained technical data of a Russian LACM guidance system. Known indigenous Chinese LACMs under development include Chang Feng, Chang Feng-JIA, and Hong Niao-1/2/3,
6 with a range between 400 km and 1,800 km and circular error of probabilities (CEP) between 5 m to 15 m, though the numbers appear
to be rather optimistic. The Hong Niao LACM is reportedly a derivative of the Russian Kh-65/Kh-SD, a shorter-range version of the Russian Kh-55 [AS-15 Kent] 3,000-kilometer-range strategic cruise missile.
Technically speaking, active defense against incoming missiles involves searching, detection, tracking, prediction, and interception. Unlike ballistic missiles, which are relatively easy to detect due to their flight trajectories, LACMs may be misidentified as aircraft because of similarities in their flight characteristics. Furthermore, even if the defending force fields a network of ground and elevated sensors, LACMs’ small radar cross section (RCS) and low infrared (IR) signature complicate the tasks of searching, detection, and tracking.
The AN/APS-145 radar on Taiwan’s E-2T Hawkeye early warning aircraft is adequate for these tasks, so will the SPY-1 radar on Aegis Combat System (ACS) which Taiwan may acquire in the future. Nevertheless, Taiwan may still need to procure and integrate additional airborne sensors, such as aeroflot, tethered aerostat, and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for better round-the-clock surveillance. Since command, control, and battle management (C2/BM) is the core of missile defense, the existing infrastructure of Taiwan’s air defense system needs to be evolved into an
integrated air and missile defense network. Effective active defense requires close coordination among joint organizations and integration of sensors and weapon systems. The ultimate objective is to create a single integrated air picture (SIAP) by orchestrating various sensors and command posts across the three services.
This engineering task poses serious challenge in system integration, interoperability, survivability, and joint command structure. Yet the force multiplier makes SIAP very attractive for military planners.
To better utilize limited air defense assets, force deployment requires thorough studies6
Statement of Richard D. Fisher, Jr., on Military Capabilities of the People's Republic of China, 19 July 2000, House Armed Services. 3
of Taiwan’s terrain.
By employing quantitative tools such as dynamic programming,
optimization, modeling and simulation, the military can predict, with certain degree of confidence, the paths of incoming LACMs and deploy critical assets accordingly. The three figures below show basic techniques of dynamic programming.
Step 1. Initialize 2-D Terrain Map
Step 2. Scoring and Traceback
Step 3. Optimized Path
Taiwan’s weapon systems suitable for missions to defend against LACM include MIM-72 Chaparral FAADS, Avenger PMS (pedestal-mounted stinger), FIM-92 DMS (dual-mounted stinger), MIM-23 Hawk surface-to-air missiles, flak, and fighter jets armed with air-to-air missiles.
Though active defense measures are conspicuous and attract much attention, passive defense measures are less expensive and can provide certain degree of protection for civilians. Passive defense involves measures taken to posture vital assets to reduce vulnerability and minimize the effects of a missile attack. The measures are taken to
Note that this is only one of the many tools available for path prediction. There are alternative methods that can yield different solutions. Simply put, force planning and deployment involves more art than science.
warn the military force and the general public, reduce enemy targeting effectiveness, enhance personnel and equipment survivability, and recover and reconstitute after attack.
When we discuss passive defense, questions such as the ones below will inevitably be raised: What level of protection does Taiwan need? Does it want to further protect the military forces that are somewhat protected? Or does it simply want to address the psychological preparedness issue among the civilians? Answers to these questions may not be intuitive, though they are obviously connected to the distribution of
defense resources. As Taiwan adopts the “no first strike” doctrine, one of the primary purposes for passive defense is to maintain an assured second-strike capability. For example, military installations may use camouflage, emission control, thermal masking, and other techniques to avoid being detected and targeted by PLA’s reconnaissance assets.
As such, Taiwan can deploy feint, decoys and operations security (OPSEC) measures to induce confusion as to whether a site is an actual target. Additionally, China's counter-C 2, operations can be made less effective by Taiwan's employment of system redundancy. For example, if half of the communication bandwidth is sufficient for operational purposes, the communications systems can sustain 50 percent interdiction.
Countermeasures can be explained by introducing how the guidance component in a LACM functions. A LACM’s in-flight guidance typically relies on inertial navigation systems (INS) using gyroscopes to ascertain the missile’s position. A long-range LACM requires supplemental information, such as terrain contour matching (TERCOM) and Global Positioning System (GPS), to make up for inherent INS’s inaccuracy. China’s missiles are known to strap GPS, Russian GLONASS, and/or its indigenous Twin Star satellite positioning receivers. The U.S. Tomahawk also uses an
additional set of precise terminal navigation updates known as the digital scene matching area correlator (DSMAC), a two-dimensional, map-matching concept that employs an onboard sensor to obtain a sequence of images of the ground slightly ahead of the missile.
Among all these guidance technologies, gyroscope is a self-enclosed unit and probably the most difficult to interfere from outside of the missile. Its cumulative drift, 8 As required by the U.S. FM 100-12 titled “Army Theater Missile Defense Operations,” planning for passive defense should begins with a comprehensive TMD intelligence preparation of the battlespace
(IPB) that defines the battlefield environment, describes the battlefield’s effects, evaluates the threat, and determines threat courses of actions.
moreover, does not make it an attractive candidate to interfere. Satellite positioning unit receives updates from radio frequency (RF) signal and is susceptible to jamming. In fact, the electromagnetic energy radiating from a cellular phone is powerful enough to jam the U.S. GPS signal which is measured at only 10 -5 watts on the ground.
TERCOM and DSMAC units can both be dealt with by employing carefully planned thermal sources and large balloon edifices to confuse the matching/correlation algorithms in LACM’s onboard computers. Again, tools such as dynamic programming and optimization can be employed to perfect the deployment of feintand decoys.
Measures for passive defense are in fact risk-management strategies that first requires an intimate knowledge of the missions, services, and assets that need to be protected. Military planners can develop a set of survivable scenarios to verify the soundness of strategies and corresponding measures. Subsequently, passive defense depends not only on the engineering disciplines, but also on scenario-driven “what-if” analyses
and contingency planning. Therefore, passive defense depends at least as much upon the risk management skills of an organization as it does upon the technical expertise.
Attack Operations: Counterforce
U.S. FM 100-12 states that “to create a coherent Army theater missile defense, active defense operations must complement passive defense, attack operations, and C4I.” Consequently, Taiwan should probably emphasize more on air offensive operations and on unconventional warfare, such as Special Operations (SPOPS), to neutralize missile launch sites and airbases in China. Special operations may also serve as an
important cornerstone of Taiwan’s deterrent. Without sufficient long-range strike assets, the special force may be the only way to strike targets while minimizing collateral damages. Such doctrinal shift from the country’s traditionally defensive thinking will require at least two elements: near real-time reconnaissance intelligence and long-range precision strike assets. In recent years, high-resolution commercial satellite imagery offers much more detailed information than is currently available from the LANDSAT and Spot systems.
The two major military benefits from commercial imagery are (1) the ability to better visualize the battlefield, and (2) precision targeting of weapons. With computer-aided photo-interpretation, laborious tasks such as precise location, target identification, and change detection can be accomplished more easily. Moreover, mission planning, route 6
planning, and air defense penetration, which are essential to successful air strike operations, can be carried out more swiftly. As such, Taiwan is taking advantage of the orbital space, which is rapidly becoming
commercialized. The country reportedly has an agreement with the Israel Aircraft Industries to acquire 1.8-meter resolution imagery from its EROS-1 satellite and is authorized to fully control the satellite whenever it flies within 1,000 km of the ground station.
Ikonos satellite from Space Imaging also offers Taiwan 1-meter
panchromatic and 4-meter multi-spectral imagery. 10 In order to exploit the benefits from space reconnaissance, Taiwan is planning to launch a remote sensing satellite offering less than 2-meter resolution imagery by the end of 2003. 11 Though 1.5-meter resolution is sufficient for general identification for most military targets, revisit time of the above-mentioned satellites—ranging from 1.5 days to 3 days, will make it difficult to keep track of enemy’s movement in the battlefield.
Therefore, Taiwan may attempt to maximize the advantages of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to collect, process, and disseminate intelligence to combat aircraft for post-launch neutralization of missile sites. From reconnaissance UAVs, ships are not hard to spot; airfields and concentration of ground troops are unlikely to escape destruction in the face of precision-guided munitions (PGMs) furnished with precise
spatial and temporal information. As proved in Iraq and in Kosovo, PGMs can effectively convert a target's visibility into demise. Because most Chinese logistics facilities and C 2 centers are not well camouflaged, they seem vulnerable to precision strikes.
A reasonable assumption is that, unlike many Third World regimes, the current Chinese leadership values the Chinese population and economy. China’s economy, like most around the world, requires a labor force and industrial base to produce and sustain national power. China’s urban centers in the coastal regions have become even 9
Taiwan Plugs Into Eros A1, SAT News Asia, August 15, 2001, available at
Taiwan Taps Into Private US Spy Satellite, Space Daily, April 30, 2000, available at
Taiwan in October 1991 launched a 15-year space program at an estimated cost of US$560 million. Its first fully-owned satellite ROCSAT-1 went into orbit in January 1999. Its second satellite, named
ROCSAT-2, would be sent into orbit in late 2003. Although Taipei insisted it would be designed for scientific research, its imaging payload implies its potential for military applications. Taiwan also aims to put into orbit six micro-satellites weighing about 40 kilograms each for meteorological missions.
more vital to the nation’s focal points of industrial and economic development. Therefore, Taiwan can base its deterrent strategy, in part, on a threat to destroy a significant portion of China’s prosperous and productive coastal region, such as Shanghai and Hong Kong. Nonetheless, since weapons in Taiwan’s possession are largely “defensive” in nature—lacking range, lethality, and precision, China may not
be able to determine the magnitude of Taiwan’s deterrence based on conventional weapons.
Consequently, longer-range precision-strike LACM may be one of the solutions Taiwan can and should pursue. Taiwan's military-industrial complex has demonstrated its capabilities to develop ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. By some estimates, a LACM without TERCOM costs only 30% of a ballistic missile and 70% with TERCOM. The cost-effectiveness of a LACM seems rather appealing. With Taiwan’s world-class electronics industry, engineers will find integrating sub-components such
as gyroscopes, radar altimeter, laser range-finder, solid-state accelerometer, GPS receiver, digital servo, and electro-optical sensor into a LACM guidance system not difficult. Though converting satellite imagery into digital terrain model and designing flexible pattern matching algorithms for embedded TERCOM and DSMAC is more challenging, commercially available software tools will make the engineering task
within reach of an R&D institution.
So the remaining question may be why Taiwan has yet to field any LACMs. One reasonable explanation is the propulsion system. The country’s mechanical engineering industry does not seem adequate to produce fuel-efficient engines with high thrust-to-weight ratio comparable to Williams Research’s F107-WR-101 turbofan engine used in American AGM-86B/C/D cruise missile or Microturbo TRI 60-30 turbofan engine used in British Storm Shadow conventionally armed stand-off cruise missile (CASOM). The fact that only a handful of countries can manufacture
this type of engine proves how formidable the challenge is. Nonetheless, if offensive operation is a critical pillar of missile defense, Taiwan will have to put emphasis on the yet-to-be-defined doctrine and come up with “creative means” to overcome the technological obstacle.