The Ministry of National Defense yesterday said the military has the ability to shoot down a new anti-ship cruise missile that China was reported to have test-fired early this month.
"The C-803 missile will not be a threat to Taiwan no matter how far it can fly," said Lieutenant General Shen Kuo-jen (
"As far as we know, the missile cannot fly as far as 250km. Even if it could fly that far, we have the ability to shoot it down before it reaches us," Shen said.
Shen made the remarks yesterday at a meeting of the legislature's Defense Committee in response to concerns from former navy chief and PFP Legislator Nelson Ku (
The Washington Times reported last week that a Chinese JH-7 fighter bomber had test-fired one of the missiles over Bohai Bay early this month and that the test results were surprising because the missile reached a maximum range of 250km, which was double that initially expected by foreign observers.
Shen did not confirm the reported test-fire but he insisted that the missile did not have a 250km range.
"There is no need to worry about this missile because we already have the ability to neutralize bigger threats like the Sunburn missile that China bought from Russia," Shen said.
"The Sunburn is a missile with a greater range and higher speed. Its maximum speed is over two Mach, while that of the C-803 is only slightly over one Mach," he said.
"We have used computers hundreds of times to simulate an interception of the Sunburn. We know well very how to deal with a missile of this kind. The C-803 is much less of a threat," he said.
Shen later told reporters in private that Taiwan's most effective weapon against the Sunburn and the C-803 is the Standard SM-II surface-to-air missile that the navy plans on buying from the US together with four Kidd-class destroyers.
He did not explain, however, how the navy will use the SM-II to shoot down the Sunburn or the C-803 seeing as how its maximum range is only 153km, shorter than that of the two target missiles, and that the Kidd's radar and combat systems can not handle a saturation missile attack.
The SM-II is generally believed to be the main reason the navy insists on buying the four decommissioned Kidds, which some lawmakers have ridiculed as junk ships.
A naval official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said if the US did not agree to sell the SM-II, the navy would not consider buying the Kidds.