Saturday, September 26, 2009

Taiwan Accidentally Reveals Missile



Taiwan Accidentally Reveals Missile


TSOYING NAVAL BASE, TAIWAN — During a Jan. 24 media event sponsored by the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense (MND) at Tsoying Naval Base, journalists got an unexpected view of the new Hsiung Feng 3 (Brave Wind) anti-ship missile.

Two HF-3 missile modular canisters were outfitted on the Perry-class 1101 Cheng Kung guided missile frigate at the weapon loading dock.

The discovery was made while journalists departed Tsoying on the 1207 Wu Chang, a La Fayette-class frigate, to participate in an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) exercise.

The sighting was clearly an oversight by MND officials, who reluctantly admitted the missiles were HF-3s. Officials described the outfitting of the Cheng Kung as a yearlong test phase for the HF-3. The two HF-3s outfitted on the Cheng Kung were flanked by two HF-2 modular canisters.

Sources said the Navy was planning to equip all seven Perry-class frigates and possibly six 500-ton Jin Chiang-class guided-missile patrol vessels with HF-3s. There have been unconfirmed reports the Navy also plans to outfit its 30 170-ton stealthy Kuang Hua-6 guided-missile patrol boats now under construction. Plans for coastal batteries of HF-3s also have been reported, but unconfirmed.

With a range of 150 to 200 kilometers at Mach 2, the HF-3 will be able to hit ships along China’s coast and possibly inland targets. The distance between Taiwan and China ranges from 220 kilometers at the widest point and 130 kilometers at the narrowest.

The new missile is one in a series of HF missiles developed by the military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST).

The HF-3 was officially unveiled to the public during the 10/10 National Day Parade in October. However, actual sightings of the HF-3 outfitted on naval vessels have been elusive. The outfitting clearly demonstrates Taiwan’s determination to go forward with the HF-3 program.

There has been pressure on Taiwan from the United States to abandon development of missiles capable of hitting China’s coast. CSIST also is developing the HF-2E land attack cruise missile, reportedly with a range of more than 500 kilometers.

The U.S. State Department has been campaigning to kill the HF-2E program, but MND officials have argued Taiwan needs an effective deterrent against China’s growing arsenal of more than 1,300 short-range ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan.

The two-hour ASW exercise was designed to demonstrate the Navy’s ability to handle a blockade by Chinese submarines. The exercise included two La Fayette-class frigates, the 1206 Ti Hua and 1207 Wu Chang; the Dutch-built Hai Lung (Sea Dragon) submarine; three U.S.-built minehunters, the 1301, 1305 and 1306; two Taiwan-built Jing Chiang-class vessels, the 606 and 607; one Sikorsky S-70C ASW helicopter; and one S-2T Grumman Tracker ASW aircraft.

The exercise included depth charges dropped by Jiang-class vessels, which forced the enemy (Sea Dragon) submarine to the surface. The exercise included a demonstration landing aboard the Ti Hua by an S-70C helicopter.