A report published by the China Times on July 14, 2023, suggests the United States is set to acquire decommissioned Hawk MIM-23 air defense missile systems from the Taiwanese military. These systems are destined for Ukraine to fortify its air defense capabilities. In return, the US could potentially provide Taiwan with additional Patriot air defense systems.
The Taiwanese armed forces’ Hawk missiles, which are Phase III MIM-23 Hawks, were decommissioned from Taiwan’s arsenal in June 2023. The MIM-23 Hawk is a medium-range surface-to-air missile system developed by American defense contractor Raytheon. Initially introduced in 1960, the system has undergone several upgrades to increase its operational efficacy.
Ukraine has already received a Hawk air defense missile system from Spain, including a MIM-23 Hawk Phase I/III (21) Battery in December 2022. Additionally, the United States delivered two MIM-23 Hawk firing units in February 2023.
The MIM-23 Hawk system is designed to serve as a defensive weapon against aircraft and other airborne threats. It was initially deployed by the U.S. Army in 1959 and has seen numerous updates since. Enhancements typically target the system’s radar, launch equipment, and the missile itself.
The MIM-23B version includes upgrades to the missile and improved radar, boosting the Hawk’s efficacy against low-altitude targets and enhancing its long-range targeting capabilities.
The Product Improvement Plan (PIP) Phase III, initiated in 1983 and first deployed by U.S. forces in 1989, represents a significant upgrade. This phase brought about major enhancements to computer hardware and software, introduced a new CWAR AN/MPQ-62, single-scan target detection, and an upgrade to the HPI AN/MPQ-61 standard. A Low-Altitude Simultaneous Hawk Engagement (LASHE) system was added, allowing the Hawk system to counter saturation attacks by intercepting multiple low-level targets simultaneously.
The initial Hawk system had a range of about 40 kilometers and could reach altitudes of up to approximately 18,000 meters. However, the Improved Hawk and I-Hawk variants, such as the MIM-23B, have an extended range of up to 48 kilometers and can achieve altitudes of around 20,000 meters.
This military assistance to Ukraine signals an ongoing commitment from the United States to support Ukraine’s defensive capabilities in the face of regional threats. The potential exchange deal with Taiwan also indicates a strengthening of ties between Taipei and Washington and an implicit commitment to Taiwan’s defense.
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