The US has delivered 11 improved Phalanx close-in weapon systems and is to provide two more before the end of the year, while 400 Javelin anti-tank guided missiles are to be delivered before the end of next year, officials said yesterday.
The new Phalanx Block 1B systems are to be fitted in the navy’s warships during scheduled maintenance, which would significantly increase the fleet’s ability to survive enemy fire, a defense official said on condition of anonymity.
The navy’s eight older Phalanx systems are being upgraded in the US through an improvement program, which is scheduled for completion in 2025, they said.
The Phalanx systems are radar-directed guns that automatically engage anti-ship missiles and other threats to the ship, they said.
The Block 1B version of the system has a forward-looking infrared sensor, an improved 1.5km effective range and a firing rate of 4,500 rounds per minute, they said.
The new Phalanx systems are being fitted in Keelung-class destroyers and Kang Ding-class and Cheng Kung-class frigates, while the indigenous Tuo Chiang-class corvette and Yushan-class amphibious landing dock would also receive the upgraded systems, they said.
Taiwan took receipt of 42 command launch units of the US-made Javelin system, while 200 tube-and-missile assemblies are scheduled to arrive this year and another 200 assemblies next year, a defense official said yesterday.
The transfer of 400 Javelin missiles to Taiwan was originally announced by the administration of then-US president Donald Trump in July 2019, which included an additional 1,700 TOW 2B RF missiles, Institute of National Defense and Security Research director Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲) said.
The Javelin systems are fire-and-forget guided missiles that attack the topside of main battle tanks where the armor is thinnest, Su said, adding that the missiles are estimated to be able to penetrate 800mm of steel.
The Javelin systems would be lethal to amphibious craft that carry assault troops to beaches, and might prevent landing groups from reaching a shoreline, he said.
The TOW 2B RF missile — a longer-range weapon that requires a gunner to train sights on a target until the projectile strikes — has the advantage of being guided by radio waves rather than a wire, which proved vulnerable to contact with seawater during past exercises, he said.
The selection of these weapons for procurement suggests that the armed forces intend to use massed anti-tank missiles as short-range anti-ship weapons to counter the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy, Su said.
A battalion-seized amphibious assault unit requires up to 30 open-topped landing ships and lightly armored amphibious tanks, both of which are prime targets for Javelins and TOWs, he said.
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