Sunday, January 20, 2013

Taïwan : U.S.-made Sparrow missiles could be included in exercise again

 U.S.-made Sparrow missiles that were excluded from last year's military exercises after a mishap the previous year could be included in future war games if further tests confirm its safety, the Air Force said Saturday.

The medium-range guided missiles were not deployed in a live-fire military exercise in July 2012 after the poor showing in 2011 of three Sparrows, one of which climbed 200 meters into the air before radically changing direction and plunging into the sea.

The Air Force said the U.S. Navy completed first-stage tests on the Sparrows last September and found them to be normal. It said an ongoing second stage of tests could be completed this quarter.

Taiwan purchased hundreds of AIM-7F and AIM-7M missiles from the United States in batches beginning in the late 1980s at a price tag of NT$6.4 million (US$220,766) per missile.

In addition to the mishap in 2011, there were incidents of Sparrows falling into the sea before reaching their targets in a 2006 exercise.

The U.S. military has requested countries that have bought the Sparrow missiles not to fire them during military exercises in order to lower training risks.

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