Military passes off missile launchers as delivery vehicles

CAUGHT OUT::A report in ‘Defense News’ said the military’s disguising of the launchers as courier trucks was an ‘embarrassing’ and ‘idiotic’ subterfuge tactic

By J. Michael Cole  /  Staff reporter

Mon, Mar 04, 2013 - Page 3

After years of development, the military has deployed the ultra-secret Hsiung Feng IIE (HF-2E) land-attack cruise missile (LACM) and appears to be disguising the road-mobile launchers as a fleet of medium-sized express delivery vehicles, Internet reports have said.

The HF-2E LACM, developed by the Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST), entered mass production under the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration and is now deployed in northern parts of the country. Three squadrons, under Missile Command’s 601 Group, are deployed in Taishan (泰山) and Sansia (三峽) in New Taipei City (新北市), and Yangmei (楊梅) in Taoyuan County, Defense News reported.

With a range of about 650km, the subsonic HF-2E is at the heart of the national counterforce strategy and would be used to launch retaliatory strikes against military targets along China’s southeastern coast. Reports last year said the deployment was part of a NT$30 billion (US$1.02 billion) program codenamed Chichun, or “Lance Hawk.”

According to images first posted on a military Web site in late January, several of the HF-2E road-mobile launchers appear to have been disguised as “Red Bird” express service vehicles, presumably to throw off Chinese intelligence. The Chinese-language United Evening News last month reported that some residents in the Yangmei and Longtan (龍潭) districts in Taoyuan County said they had seen gray cargo trucks bearing the Chinese characters for “express delivery” and a drawing of a red bird “from time to time.”

“I have never seen any courier vehicles in the neighborhood and have long wondered why cargo trucks would suddenly appear,” a street vendor told the newspaper.

An unnamed military official quoted by Defense News’ Intercepts blog last week called the deception “idiotic” and “embarrassing.”

The Ministry of National Defense has refused to comment on the program.