Despite hitting a snag in a recent bidding process, the navy is proceeding with the development of a stealth 500-tonne fast attack missile boat that is already being hailed as Taiwan’s “carrier killer.”
Plans for the indigenous development of the 500-tonne corvette were first made public in 2009. In April the following year, Deputy Minister of National Defense Lin Yu-pao (林於豹) told the legislature that design work as part of the Hsun Hai (迅海, “Swift Sea”) program was completed and that bidding would be held this year.
The legislature last year passed a NT$24.98 billion (US$853.4 million) budget to build between seven and 11 corvettes, with delivery scheduled for 2014. The boats are reportedly expected to remain in service for 25 years.
Image provided courtesy of the Republic of China Navy
However, the process hit an obstacle last month, when only two small firms, Ching Fu Shipbuilding Co and Lung Teh Shipbuilding Co, participated in the bid for construction of the Swift Sea prototypes. China Shipbuilding Corp, Taiwan (CSBC), the nation’s largest shipbuilder, did not participate in the March 26 bid, causing it to fail, the Chinese-language Asia-Pacific Defense Magazine reported in its latest issue.
A CSBC official said the firm decided not to participate in the bid because several technological requirements for the project had yet to be confirmed by the ministry.
Once those issues have been cleared up, CSBC will participate in the bid, the official said, adding that the company was very keen on winning the contract.
The corvettes will come equipped with eight Hsiung Feng II (HF-2) and Hsiung Feng III (HF-3) anti-ship missiles, as well as a 76mm rapid-fire bow gun. The catamaran-style design, reports said, may have been inspired by the 220-tonne Houbei-class Type 022 catamaran recently deployed by China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).
Analysts are saying the central cross-linked structure of the Swift Sea corvette will provide high stability, adding that its 30 knot (55.5kph) speed will also be an asset. Special attention has reportedly been paid to the stealth design for the hull and main gun turret, which will use radar refractive materials
The program is seen as the logical follow-up to the development of the Kuang Hua VI (KH-6) fast-attack boats in service in the navy since 2010. In all, 31 of the CSBC-made, 170-tonne KH-6s, divided into three squadrons and which carry four HF-2s each, are active in the navy. Earlier this year, critics of the small attack craft said its light displacement and top-heavy design undermined its stability at sea, especially during unfavorable weather conditions.
James Holmes of the US Naval War College told the Taipei Times at the time that the KH-6 was probably only a transitional platform until something better was introduced.
Amid growing focus on the indigenous development of weapons systems, Taiwan appears to be slowly emphasizing an asymmetrical approach to countering the Chinese military, with less reliance on heavy — and expensive — platforms and more on speed, stealth and evasiveness, analysts say.
Taiwanese defense analysts say the principal role of the new corvettes in coastal defense will be to target any carrier battle group deployed by the PLAN in nearby waters.
China’s first aircraft carrier, the refurbished former Soviet Varyag, is expected to enter service in August this year. Two or three additional carriers are expected to be built by Chinese shipyards by 2020.
921 EARTHQUAKE: The magnitude 7.3 quake left 2,456 people dead and 10,718 injured, while 53,661 houses were fully destroyed and 53,024 houses damaged The Central Weather Bureau yesterday received about 50,000 views on Facebook after it posted the data that it collected on Sept. 21, 1999, when the nation was devastated by a magnitude 7.3 earthquake. The data showed that the 921 Earthquake hit the nation at 1:47am, with the epicenter being 7km southwest of the bureau’s quake detection center in Nantou County’s Yuchi Township (魚池) at a depth of 8km. The quake left 2,456 people dead and 10,718 injured, while 53,661 houses were fully destroyed and 53,024 houses damaged, with the cost of the damage estimated at NT$300 billion (US$10.8 billion at the current
British newspaper The Mail on Sunday reported that Prince Charles met with Bruno Wang (汪家興), a Taiwanese fugitive who describes himself as a Chinese philanthropist and donated ￡500,000 (US$683,522) to the prince’s charity, the Prince’s Foundation. The newspaper reported that Wang is wanted in Taiwan on charges related to money laundering and being a fugitive from justice, allegations he denies, and drew comparisons between Wang and the Russian banker Dmitry Leus. Investigation and cooperation with foreign authorities have found that Bruno Wang’s father, Andrew Wang (汪傳浦), had stashed proceeds from a scandal involving the procurement of Lafayette frigates in 61 bank accounts,
AT ODDS: The KMT called on the government to seek bilateral dialogue with Beijing to resolve the issue that led to the ban on custard apple and wax apple imports Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials and lawmakers yesterday condemned China’s sudden ban on imports of custard apples and wax apples from Taiwan as “obvious political retaliation,” while the opposition called for a scientific investigation into Beijing’s claim to have found pests in imports of the fruits. China earlier yesterday announced a ban on the importation of the two fruits from today, citing repeated discoveries of Planococcus minor, a type of mealybug. The announcement follows a similar ban on Taiwanese pineapples imposed in February. At least Beijing gave a few days’ notice when it banned pineapple imports, an unnamed government official said yesterday. This time
BY OTHER MEANS: China could see CPTPP membership as a means of circumventing trade restrictions imposed by the US, amid an ongoing trade dispute between them The US could invoke a clause in its trade agreement with Canada and Mexico to block China’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a government official said yesterday. Under Article 32.10 of the Exceptions and General Provisions of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), if either Canada or Mexico enter a free-trade agreement with a nonmarket economy — such as China — the US could withdraw from the agreement. “If that clause applies to multilateral free-trade agreements such as the CPTPP — which Mexico and Canada are members of — that might be cause for the two