Reports last week that Taiwan had test-fired Hsiung Feng II (“Brave Wind”) anti-ship missiles from a Dutch-built Hailung (“Sea Dragon”)-class submarine last month may have been wrong, Defense News wrote in an article on Friday.
The Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) broke the story on Thursday, which was then picked up by Agence France-Presse (AFP) and published in this newspaper on Friday (“Taiwan test-fires self-developed sub-launched missile,” July 8, page 1).
A former Taiwanese navy officer who reportedly worked with ordnance used on the submarines told Defense News that the Hailung-class subs had “absolutely no capability” of launching anti-ship missiles from their torpedo tubes.
“This is common sense since they still have problems with just launching torpedoes with the old fire control system,” the retiree said.
The submarines, acquired by the Netherlands in the 1980s, would require mid-life modernization work before missiles such as the domestically produced HF-2 could be fired, Defense News said, adding that those upgrades were on hold until the navy managed to secure the necessary funds.
The delays on the upgrades, added to other budgeting issues, have also prevented the navy from going forward with the purchase of 32 UGM-84L sub-launched Harpoon anti-ship missiles released by the US as part of a US$200 million package in 2008.
A former US official said one solution for the submarines would be to replace the 20-year-old fire control systems with a new one that can process Harpoon missiles as well as current and future torpedoes.
The Ministry of National Defense last week had refused to comment on the articles by the Liberty Times and AFP regarding the alleged exercise.
Ministry spokesman David Lo (羅紹和) yesterday again refused to comment on the initial article or the rebuttal published by Defense News.
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