A longer-range version of Taiwan’s indigenous Tien Chien II (Sky Sword) missile has been tested and would soon enter production, as part of the country’s efforts to counter China, a military source said.
The goal is to equip the air force’s Indigenous Defense Fighter jets with the extended-range missiles, which would serve as a more powerful deterrent to China’s frequent incursions into Taiwan’s airspace, the source said on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The latest version of the Tien Chien air-to-air missile has a range of 80km compared with the 60km range of the current version, the source said.
The Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, which is developing the new version of the missile, confirmed that the required combat tests and evaluations have been completed.
Mass production of the upgraded Tien Chien II missile would proceed in accordance with the military’s plans, the institute said, without elaborating.
While neither the institute nor the military source were willing to disclose when production of the new missile would likely begin, local media reports have speculated that it could be as soon as next year.
The air force has ordered 250 to 300 of the upgraded Tien Chien II missiles, at a cost of NT$30 million (US$1.08 million) each, and they would be mounted on the nation’s 129 Indigenous Defense Fighters, the reports said.
As part of the upgrade project, Indigenous Defense Fighters have been retrofitted to carry four instead of two Tien Chien II missiles, which would significantly increase their firepower, the reports said.
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