Additional deployment of the locally developed Hsiung Feng III (HF-3) “Brave Wind” surface-to-surface supersonic anti-ship missile on LaFayette-class Kang Ding (康定級)and Chi Yang Knox-class(濟陽級) frigates within the year is being considered in the face of China’s increasing buildup of its naval capabilities, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday.
The HF-3 supersonic surface-to-surface missile had been under research and development by the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (中山科學研究院) for nearly two decades, and was made public in a military exercise in 2007.
While the ministry has not released any information on the capabilities of the HF-3 missile, military magazines surmise that the missile may reach speeds of between Mach 2.5 and Mach 3 at a range of between 150km and 200km.
The magazines also report that the missile might be equipped with an active radar homing system and would be guided by the navy’s communication and observation systems in a wartime situation, and, as such, the missile could be considered a “fire-and-forget” type of missile.
According to an anonymous source who participated in the Hsiung Feng project, the HF-3 is more precise than either of its predecessors — the Hsiung Feng I and Hsiung Feng II — and is also superior in terms of its ability to penetrate the defensive capabilities of enemy ships.
Commenting on the tight lid the military has kept on the missile’s capabilities and specifications, the source said the difficulty in making supersonic missiles lay not in the principle, but in the missiles’ exterior form and calibrations.
Nations all over the world have classified such information, and Taiwan is no different, the source said.
The source added that the success of the Chungshan Institute in completing the missile was an important milestone for the nation.
The ministry said that the missile has already been deployed on the Cheng Kung-class(成功級) frigate, the navy’s Perry-class frigates, the locally researched and made Ching Chiang class(錦江級), and the Kuang Hua VI-class fast attack missile craft (光華六號).
The ministry is also considering deploying the HF-3 missiles on the two Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates that the ministry intends to purchase from the US next year, ministry officials said.
Meanwhile, the ministry has professed concern that China also appears interested in researching supersonic surface-to-surface missiles, adding that the success of such a venture was extremely important to the military balance in the Taiwan Strait.