The navy’s deployment of more Hsiung Feng III (HF-3) surface-to-surface missiles could provide the means to counter the potential threat posed by Chinese aircraft carriers, a news report says.
The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the sister newspaper of the Taipei Times) yesterday quoted navy officials as saying that the deployment of Hsiung Feng III supersonic anti-ship missiles on warships could effectively deter China’s warship groups and aircraft carriers currently under development.
Reports said last month that the Varyag, a refitted Ukrainian aircraft carrier, was nearing completion and could embark on its maiden voyage later this year.
Officially intended for training, the Varyag could play a combat role in a Taiwan contingency and is equipped with a number of radar systems.
However, experts say it will be a few years before Chinese naval pilots develop the skills necessary to take off and land aircraft — acquired from Russia or China-made — on carriers.
China is also reportedly developing its own nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, which could be deployed around 2020.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) told the newspaper the navy had earmarked NT$1.89 billion (US$66 million) to carry out the deployment of Hsiung Feng III missiles on Taiwan’s eight Cheng Kung-class frigates and seven Ching Chiang-class patrol ships -between 2007 and 2013.
The report said the navy last month unveiled the image of a high-tech missile corvette specifically designed to counter Chinese aircraft carriers. It also plans to deploy Hsiung Feng II (HF-2) and HF-3 missiles on the corvette, it said.
Lin said ship and land-based HF-3 missiles would pose a strong threat to Chinese warships and aircraft carriers approaching Taiwan.
However, while the navy has fielded land-based HF-2 missiles, it has yet to develop shore-based and land-based HF-3s, the report said.
Navy Chief of General Staff Vice Admiral Lee Hao (李皓) said that while the navy was developing land-based and mobile HF-3 missiles, their size and weight created difficulties in developing the vehicles capable of carrying the launchers.
Lee said that once the navy resolved that technical challenge, land-based HF-3s would be deployed.
Additional reporting by Staff Writer