Saturday, September 19, 2009

Taiwan Develops Indigenous Answer to China Missile Threat



Taiwan Develops Indigenous Answer to China Missile Threat


TAIPEI — Defense analysts here and in Washington say any Taiwanese military campaign against China depends on defeating the arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles — up to 1,000 Dong Feng 11 and DF-15s — pointed at the island.

“By knocking out critical nodes,” one U.S. defense analyst in Taiwan said, “Taiwan could effectively neutralize its ballistic missile capability.”

While Taiwan’s 150 F-16 fighter jets can penetrate Chinese airspace, Taiwan military officials expect air defense systems would shoot down 80 percent of those aircraft. Taiwanese fighter pilots have long joked that the missions were “one-way tickets.”

So Taipei is looking for standoff weapons — indigenous ones. In 2005, Washington declined to sell Joint Direct Attack Munitions and AGM-88C High-speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARMs) to Taiwan.

Variety of Weapons

Taiwan’s military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST) has produced an array of missiles and weapons of potential use, including the Hsiung Feng 2E (Brave Wind) land attack cruise missile, Hsiung Feng 3 anti-ship missile, the HARM-based Tien Chien (Sky Sword) 2A missile and the Wan Chien (Ten Thousand Swords) smart bomb, which is based on the AGM-154 Joint Stand-off Weapon.

Taiwan is reportedly developing a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) based on the Tien Kung (Sky Bow) air defense missile, but research and development is said to be slow.

Only three or four prototype HF-2Es have been produced, but their reported range and payload make them among the most controversial and important CSIST missiles. With a reported range of 1,000 kilometers and armed with a 400-kilogram warhead, the missile can reach as far north as Shanghai.

Sources in Taipei’s military establishment say the missiles would be used to strike China’s DF-11 and DF-15 SRBMs.

Ministry of National Defense officials have said the U.S. State Department has pressured Taiwan to kill the program to pacify Beijing.

The local press has reported the missile being tested at the Jiupeng Missile Test Range in southeast Taiwan over the past several years, with the latest test reported in February.

There also are plans for a ship- and air-launched version of the missile.

Naval Targets

CSIST is also developing a Mach 2 HF-3 with a reported range of 150 to 200 kilometers, enough to strike the east coast of China across the Taiwan Strait, which varies in width from 130 to 220 kilometers.

To enter production in a year or two, land-based and ship-based HF-3s would target the Chinese naval bases at Sandu, Shantou, Xiamen and Xiazhen, Taiwan sources said. The missile is expected to outfit the island nation’s La Fayette-class and Perry-class frigates, and perhaps the new stealthy 170-ton Kuang Hua-6 missile patrol boat.

The HF-3 is the latest in a series of CSIST anti-ship missiles. The first two, HF-1 and HF-2, are deployed in all three services. The HF-1 has a range of 40 kilometers at 0.7 Mach and the HF-2 (MGB-2B) has a range of 150 kilometers at Mach 0.85. The HF-1 and HF-2 are outfitted on Taiwan warships, and an air-launched version is being developed for the Ching-kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF).

The IDF is a product of the state-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. (AIDC) and is considered a light fighter with below-average capabilities. However, AIDC unveiled two upgraded IDF-2 Goshawk prototypes at the CCK air base in Taichung in March. The IDF-2s have advanced avionics, improved range and more hard points for weapons. The Air Force is considering replacing its aging F-5 Tigers with 60 IDF-2s.

CSIST is developing the Tien Chien 2A anti-radiation missile and the Wan Chien smart bomb for the IDF. The TC-2A is based on the TC-2 air-to-air missile outfitted on the IDF. The Wan Chien is believed to have a range of 70 kilometers and will be able to strike within 30 feet of the target.