The US and France provide many of the missiles of choice for Tai-wan's military, but times are slow-ly turning in favor of Taiwan's indigenous missile program.
The military-run Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology (
Taiwan often complains that its missile development has been encumbered by US pressure. It is true that the CIA stopped Tai-wan's nuclear weapons program and halted production of the surface-to-surface Tien Ma (
The Tien Ma had a range of 1,000km, capable of hitting Shanghai. Taiwan managed to produce an unknown number before production stopped. It is unlikely they are still operational, but rumors persist they are hid-den in the Central Mountain Range.
A brief look at Taiwan's indigenous missile program will ex-plain why China should think twice about attacking and why US interference appears to be in vain.
The first reason is the air-to-air Tien Chien (
The surface-to-air Tien Kung (
TK-3 development began in 1996 as a low-altitude anti-missile defense system expected to be in service by 2005 if development continues. Many fear the acquisition of more US Patriot anti-ballistic missiles will hamper the TK-3's development.
Considered one of Taiwan's most mysterious projects, the surface-to-surface short-range Tien Chi (
Taiwan has also developed the anti-ship Hsiung Feng (
A marked improvement over the HF-1 was the development of an air-launched version for the IDF in 1996.
The next step was the HF-3 with increased range to 200km at Mach 2.0. Improvements include a vertical launch system, which widens the attack angle, and a ramjet engine. The HF-3 is sche-duled to go into production at the end of this year.
The land attack cruise missile, designated Hsiung Feng 2E, based on the HF-2, has a range of 1,000km. Though only in its development stages, the HF-2E will be a major advance for Tai-wan. For the first time, Taiwan will be able to attack targets as far away as Shanghai.
In December 1999, officials from Taiwan hinted at plans for the development of medium-range surface-to-surface missiles. Many analysts saw this as the resurrection of the Tien Ma. Recent press accounts have described a medium-range missile with a range of 1,000 to 2,000km. This would put all of China's major political and economic hubs in range, including Beijing.