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Radar may have been shut down by US
WAKE UP CALL: Possibly in order to test the military's readiness, a US electronic warfare plane recently blacked out all radar systems in the north of the country
By Brian Hsu STAFF REPORTER
The US navy recently launched an electronic warfare drill in the neighborhood of Taiwan, causing all the radar stations in northern Taiwan to be shut down simultaneously, according to defense sources.
The electronic warfare drill was launched by an unidentified aircraft, which the military believes was likely a US navy EA-6B.
The incident occurred in recent weeks, and caught the military totally unprepared.
A military official, who provided the information to the Taipei Times, declined to speculate on why the US navy launched the attack against the Taiwan military."They might be trying to tell us how weak our defense against electronic warfare is. They might also be doing it unintentionally." An anonymous Taiwanese military official
"They might be trying to tell us how weak our defense against electronic warfare is. They might also be doing it unintentionally. But this is not believed likely since the US navy must know what the EA-6B was doing at the time of the incident," the official said.
Erich Shih (¬I§µÞ³), a senior editor with Defence International magazine, said it makes sense to believe that the US navy was using the EA-6B to test Taiwan defenses against electronic warfare attack.
"The US navy deploys around 10 EA-6Bs in Japan. An EA-6B could launch a jamming attack against Taiwan's radar stations while flying over seas east of Taiwan," Shih said. "The EA-6B is the only electronic warfare aircraft in the US military that is capable of doing so."
A naval official once told the Taipei Times that they had experienced radar blackouts while encountering US naval ships on waters off Taiwan.
These radar blackouts happen because the radar used by US naval ships is much more powerful than that used by the ships of the Taiwanese navy, the naval official said. "Radar jamming of this kind just happens," he said.
Around the time the US navy launched the mysterious electronic warfare attack, the US air force offered the Taiwan air force an opportunity for a joint operation.
The joint operation was between Taiwan's E-2T early warning aircraft and unidentified aircraft of the US air force, defense sources said.
The operation was undertaken for the purpose of promoting interoperability between the air forces in the command and control of fighters and warships.
The US military has also provided two types of computer war-gaming software which can be used to simulate joint operations between the militaries.
These software packages, code-named "Posheng" (³Õ³Ó) and "Tsaosheng" (¶W³Ó) respectively, have been jointly run several times by military personnel from the two sides. These programs are run irregularly at the country's strategic command -- the Hengshan («í¤s) command in Taipei's suburban Tachih (¤jª½).
A defense official who has in-depth knowledge of these software packages, said the programs, though good, cannot help the militaries of the two countries reach optimum interoperability since they lack sufficient data to fit every different kind of scenario.
"This happens due in part to the fact that the two sides lack sufficient trust in one another. We will not provide all necessary information about our military to the US for running the software. Nor will they give us all the information they know," the official said.
Despite this, the US navy offered a huge boost to the Taiwanese navy several months ago by giving communication codes so Taiwan's navy would be able to communicate with US forces.
The provision of the communication codes is considered by the local military to be a sign that some sort of joint operation capability is to be built between the two navies .
The US navy last provided similar communication codes to the Taiwan navy during the 1996 Taiwan Strait Crisis as China fired missiles into seas off Taiwan.
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-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 30, 2001