Taiwanese navy flexes its missile muscles
The Hsiung Feng-3 is reportedly being upgraded to boost its range and payload capacity
The Taiwanese navy on Wednesday made public footage of drills involving its formidable supersonic missile series capable of warding off Chinese destroyers and other warships.
The high-profile move came a few hours ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s much-publicized speech on Taiwan, in which he again underlined Beijing’s goal of reunification.
In a video clip posted on the navy’s Facebook account, a Hsiung Feng-3 anti-ship missile is seen being launched from a futuristic-looking “Tuo Chiang” stealth corvette.
The Hsiung Feng-3 is based on the design of an integrated rocket ramjet featuring solid and liquid fuel boosters and is known for its operational flexibility as it can be used on targets anywhere between 30 and 400 kilometers away.
It is the latest iteration in the family of missiles that was first developed by Taiwan in the 1970s.
On the strength of its cutting-edge electronic counter-countermeasure capabilities and advanced radar capabilities, the missile can penetrate an enemy ship’s defenses when cruising at supersonic speeds of up to Mach 3.0. By being able to employ high-G “random weaving” maneuvering at terminal sea-skimming altitudes, it can evade advanced defenses.
It also features an armor-piercing warhead that generates tremendous destructive power that can wipe out a target ship’s defense system.
The missile was officially revealed during Taiwan’s 2007 National Day parade and since then has been deployed aboard the navy’s Lafayette/Kang Ding–class frigates, Cheng Kung–class frigates, Tuo Chiang-class corvettes as well as Jin Chiang–class patrol gunboats.
Jane’s Defense Review revealed in September 2018 that Taiwan had already begun work on a new ship-launched Hsiung Feng missile modeled after the design of the third-generation model, with a focus on improving its survivability, range and payload capacity.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s missile shield is also buttressed by the Hsiung Feng-2E, the island’s indigenous tactical surface-to-surface cruise missile modeled on the US Tomahawk series with a range of 600km and capable of hitting targets in China’s Fujian province. Also in development is a new variant of the AIM-9 Sidewinder, which is a versatile, infrared-homing-guided air-to-air missile series procured from the United States.
Taiwan is also striving to improve its home-built Tien Chien air-to-air missile, Tien Kung surface-to-air missile and Hsiung Feng anti-ship missile, with emphasis on their operational strike ranges.
In 2017 the island’s media cited a lieutenant-general responsible for operations planning as saying that the country’s missiles could hit Chinese targets 1,500km away.