Isolated Russia Appears Likely to Agree to Sell China more Advanced Weapon Systems

[The Diplomat] There have been more and more signs that China will become the first foreign customer of Russia’s most advanced anti-missile system, the S-400. China’s People’s Liberation Army already operates the Russian-made S-300 anti-missile system, and Beijing and Moscow have reportedly been negotiating over the S-400 since 2010. These talks have reportedly been slowed by a number of issues, including Russia’s concern that China would reverse-engineer the advanced anti-air and anti-missile system.

[South China Morning Post] “The S-400 can engage up to 36 targets simultaneously with as many as 72 missiles at altitudes of five metres to 30 km.” It also has a range of 400 km, roughly four times the range of the S-300. Moreover, SCMP also notes that the S-400 is capable of engaging nearly all conceivable air threats, including, “tactical and strategic aircraft, ballistic missiles and hypersonic targets such as the U.S.’ F-35 fighter jet.”

No country would be as threatened by China’s acquisition of the S-400 as Taiwan. As Defense News noted earlier this year, “At present, China’s land-based mobile air defense missile systems, HQ-9 and S-300 can reach only a small sliver of northwestern Taiwan….However, with the planned purchase of the 400-kilometer-range Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile (SAM) system, China will for the first time have complete air defense coverage of Taiwan.”

The Taiwanese Defense Ministry is asking for $2.5 billion between 2015-2024 to replace the Hawk systems with the Sky Bow-3. The lawmaker claimed that this was the largest purchase of a domestically-made system in recent years.

The Sky Bow III should be a substantial upgrade for Taiwan’s defense against China’s ever present cruise missile threat to the island nation. More notably, however, it should help Taiwan cope with the threat posed by China’s emerging J-20 stealth fighter jets. Kao Hua-Chu, Taiwan’s defense minister until last year, told lawmakers in 2011 that the Sky Bow III will be capable of dealing with the J-20 as long as it is equipped with an advance radar system.

Other Asian Defense News

Japan is boosting its defense budget to pay for drones, stealth fighters and a new high-tech submarine amid intensifying military rivalry with China and concerns over North Korea’s missile program.

The Japanese Defense Ministry has asked for a 3.5 percent spending increase to 5.05 trillion yen ($ 48.7 billion) for the fiscal year beginning next April.

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