Taiwan has for the first time deployed cruise missiles capable of striking key military bases along China’s southeastern coast, media reported yesterday.
Mass production of the indigenous Hsiung Feng-IIE (HF-2E), which has a reported range of 650km, has been completed and the missiles have come into service, the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) reported, citing an unnamed military source.
The Ministry of National Defense (MND) declined to comment on the report, but the paper said the project, codenamed “Chichun” (“Lance Hawk”), cost about NT$30 billion (US$1.02 billion).
Meanwhile, a legislative -committee yesterday approved a bill asking the navy to equip a new type of fast attack missile boat being developed under the “Hsun Hai” (“Swift Sea”) program with HF-2E missiles.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) told a Foreign and National Defense Committee meeting that stealth Hsun Hai missile corvettes equipped with HF-2Es could launch retaliatory attacks on Chinese military targets.
He said attacks from the sea provided the advantage of un-predictability, with better range and angles of attack than land-based launchers.
Lin submitted a bill requesting the navy equip the 450 tonne fast attack missile boats with HF-2Es.
The bill was approved by the committee.
Deputy Minister of National Defense Chao Shih-chang (趙世璋) told the committee that the military agreed to evaluate the proposal.
Lung Teh Shipbuilding Co won a bid to build prototypes of the fast attack missile boat, with plans for completion by the end of 2014. According to design plans, the corvette will also be equipped with HF-3 supersonic anti-ship missiles.
Meanwhile, Lin said a decision by the ministry to house P-3C marine patrol aircraft at Pingtung Airbase would cause delays in delivery.
Taiwan has procured 12 P-3Cs from the US, with the first six to be delivered next year, five in 2014 and the last one in 2015.
However, Lin alleged that construction of the hangars at Pingtung Airbase had been delayed until 2017, which he said could force a delay in the deployment of the P-3Cs — aircraft that would play a crucial role in detecting submarines.
Chao denied there would be any delay, adding that the aircraft would use existing hangars and maintenance systems at Pingtung Airbase.