Budget Request Shows Chinese Incursions Straining Taiwan’s Military Fuel Funds

Request For Additional Fuel Funds

Recently, it was revealed that Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense submitted a letter to the Legislative Yuan to approve more funds to pay for additional fuel in 2023. The ministry submitted the request to the Legislative Yuan’s General Accounting Office to approve $15.3 million USD ($485 million NTD) from its first reserve. The reason why the ministry submitted the request to the Yuan before spending is to comply with the island’s Budget Act.

The military requiring more funds to pay for fuel is due to two reasons. The first reason is due to the Taiwanese Air Force and Navy using their allotted fuel faster than expected to respond to daily incursions by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The other reason stated in the letter is due to high fuel prices not decreasing, which led to a shortfall in the military’s budget to buy the fuel required for all of its equipment. The military’s use of all its fuel budget occurred even after the military followed a policy of buying fuel, controlled the amount of fuel each branch used, and increased the efficiency of fuel purchasing and storage.

The ministry budgeted $25.3 million USD (800 million NTD) for the first fund reserve for 2023, of which little more than half was used to cover fuel expenses. The ministry responded by increasing its first fund reserve for its 2024 budget by over 250 percent to $79.1 million ($2.8 billion NTD) for investing in military projects.

Analysis

The ministry’s request for additional funds to pay for fuel illustrates a little-talked-about point of the repeated incursions by the PLA, which is the increased costs related to intercepting aircraft and vessels. The increased costs are not only limited to paying for additional fuel but also include increased maintenance costs that the military will also incur. However, Taiwan would still need to budget for increased amounts of fuel since China will only continue to send aircraft to force Taiwan to send aircraft to intercept. The increased budget will only serve to force Taiwan to choose between spending money on fuel or on new equipment or military projects.

In response to the increased costs, the military changed the procedures it used to intercept PLA aircraft and vessels when they entered Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). One way is to deploy more indigenous Surface to Air Missile (SAM) systems, such as the Tien Kung 2 and 3, to locations along Taiwan’s western coast. The Taiwanese military also began to deploy Harpoon, Hsiung Feng II, and III Anti-Ship Cruise Missile (ASCM) systems along the coast as well.

However, this method has limitations, such as Taiwan’s geography limiting its ability to deploy both the SAM along the western coast. Another limitation is that the Chinese aircraft can ignore the SAM and ASCM systems tracking and locking on to the aircraft because Taiwan would be extremely hesitant to destroy the aircraft. Another way that Taiwan changed its procedures related to how it reacted to Chinese aircraft entering Taiwan’s ADIZ was to prioritize which aircraft they would respond to. While this change means that Taiwan would not respond to every aircraft that violates its ADIZ, it does allow them to prioritize which ones to intercept. This change also helps in reducing the number of Chinese vessels Taiwan intercepts when they cross into Taiwanese waters it monitors.

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Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin the panda began Sino Talk in 2022 primarily to give an objective, unbiased view on China related topics as well as other issues related to the Indo-Pacific region. He spent several years studying and traveling throughout China and many countries in the Indo-Pacific region. In another life, the panda was also a U.S. Marine intelligence analyst who enjoyed bamboo MREs and drinking bourbon and soju. Indo-Pacific Division Desk Chief for Atlas News.
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