Wed, Jul 06, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Foreign buyers piqued by missile linked to mishap

By Lo Tien-fu and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Hsiung-feng III missile is unveiled in Taipei on Oct. 10, 2007.

Photo: AFP

The Taiwanese anti-ship missile that was accidentally launched last week, hitting a Taiwanese fishing boat and killing its captain, is a powerful weapon in which foreign nations have expressed interest since the Paris Air Show last year, a source in the Ministry of National Defense told reporters.

The source said the Hsiung Feng III is the mainstay of the Taiwanese military’s ship-killing arsenal, and one of the few supersonic anti-ship missiles in the world to be independently designed and produced, making it a desirable item in the global arms market.

However, the ministry does not foresee the possibility of selling the Hsiung Feng III to other nations, as the missile has just entered mass production and is a restricted weapon whose export is constrained by factors outside of the ministry’s control, the source said.

Researched and developed by the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, the Hsiung Feng III has a maximum effective range of between 130km and 150km, while a new extended-range model has a range of more than 300km.

When the institute became a legal entity under the control of the Executive Yuan, it was directed to showcase Taiwan’s defense technology to the international community, and has since then actively participated in international aeronautic exhibitions, the source said.

Several potential buyers made inquiries through intermediaries about the weapon’s technical specifications following the deadly mishap, the source said.

Because it is an aircraft-carrier-killing weapon, the nation’s allies have repeatedly expressed interest in it during joint military events, the source said.

Even at the research and development stage of the missile, representatives from foreign government agencies and arms makers contacted the government and the institute about Taipei’s willingness to sell the weapon or technology related to it, the source said.

The Taiwanese military’s purchase program for the Hsiung Feng III ran from 2007 to last year, and had a total budget of NT$11.89 billion (US$368.3 million), including deployment costs.

The commonly cited price of NT$100 million for 120 missiles is a misconception, the source said, because it fails to take into account the added cost of refurbishing facilities and one-year’s supply of spare parts.

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