Taiwan’s first locally designed stealth missile corvette, the 500-tonne Tuo Jiang (沱江, Tuo River), began sea trials of its propulsion system yesterday.
The ship was towed from the Lung Teh Shipbuidling Co at the port of Nanfangao (南方澳) in Yilan County and sailed to waters south of Turtle Island (龜山島).
Despite heavy seas off the port of Suao Township (蘇澳), the twin-hulled design of the corvette enabled it to maintain high-speed navigation.
The navy said the tests checked whether the engine can meet the requirements of traveling at high and low speeds.
The vessel was scheduled to dock at Suao military port.
Assembly and testing of its Hsiung Feng II and Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missiles are to be carried out before the navy puts the vessel through nine months of tactical testing.
The armaments of the vessel, which is described as an “aircraft carrier-killer” by media outlets, include eight Hsiung Feng II and eight Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missiles, an Otobreda 76mm gun, 12.7mm machine guns and a MK15 Phalanx close-in weapons system.
Construction of the vessel began in November 2012 and it was christened in March.
It has a top speed of about 70kph and a range of 2,000 nautical miles (3,704km). It is 60.4m long and 14m wide, and carries a crew of 41.
The navy said the ship, with its high mobility, strong firepower and stealth features, will enhance national defense.
The navy plans to commission between eight and 12 of the corvettes if funding can be obtained.
Each costs about NT$2.2 billion (US$72.39 million).
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said earlier that the navy relies mainly on larger ships, such as its Keelung-class destroyers, but those nearly 10,000-tonne ships move relatively slowly and can be obvious targets at sea.
He said that the combat area in the Taiwan Strait is not large and does not need high-tonnage warships, hence the idea behind developing the corvette.
The Navy’s 20 Guanghua VI-class fast attack missile boats currently in service will serve during a transition toward smaller ships.
The Guanghua VI-class boat has a displacement of 186.5 tonnes and a maximum draft of 3m, while the Tuo Chiang displaces 500 tonnes with a maximum draft of 2.3m, allowing it to move in and out of small harbors. Lin touted that aspect, saying the corvette could be hidden among fishing boats.
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