Saturday, September 19, 2009

Taiwan May Unveil Cruise Missile Next Week

NOTE TO READERS: The HF-2E was not displayed at the Ten-Ten Parade. See: "Taiwan Shows 2 New Missiles at Ten-Ten Parade," 10/15/07.



Taiwan May Unveil Cruise Missile Next Week


Taiwan may unveil its Hsiung Feng 2E (Brave Wind) land-attack cruise missile during the upcoming National Day parade.

Developed under a cloak of security, the HF-2E is expected to enter mass production in 2008, part of the self-governing island’s reaction to continued threats from China to invade.

Taiwan Defense Minister Lee Tien-yu said Oct. 3 that the parade would display its deterrent capabilities against China’s threats.

This will be the first time since 1991 that the military has been on parade for the so-called Double Ten parade at 10 a.m. Oct. 10. The government discontinued military parades due to fears of enraging Beijing and public sensitivities over the lifting of martial law in 1987. Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has restored military participation in a rebuke to Beijing’s threats.

Thousands of soldiers and equipment are expected to parade past the Presidential Office Building on Chungking South Road.

The military has already confirmed that the Patriot PAC-2 air defense missile and the Hsiung Feng 2 anti-ship missile will be on parade. Fighters and helicopters will fly above.

The HF-2E’s technical name is the Tactical Shore-based Missile for Fire Suppression, a Ministry of National Defense (MND) spokesperson said. Reportedly, the HF-2E is armed with a 400 kg warhead with a range of 600 to 1,000 kilometers, placing Shanghai within range.

Former Minister of National Defense Lee Jye confirmed the existence of the missile in April, and the MND listed the missile in its 2008 defense budget. Sources have said that Taiwan plans to build up to 500 HF-2Es.

There have been problems with the HF-2E’s guidance system. Sources have said that the U.S. has refused to provide Taiwan with vital terrain-mapping data, but Taiwan may have acquired the data from a third country. One source said that the HF-2E engines are not U.S.-made, which brings into question their origin.

MND sources have said that the U.S. State Department has been pressuring Taiwan to cancel the HF-2E program, fearing Beijing’s wrath, and note that China was the first to deploy offensive missiles against Taiwan. At present, China’s Second Artillery Corps has more than 900 Dong Feng 11 (East Wind) and DF-15 short-range ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan. There have been calls for Beijing to remove the missiles as a sign of peaceful cohabitation, but Beijing instead has increased the number of missiles. During the 1995-96 Taiwan Strait Missile Crisis, China fired 10 DF-15 (M-9) SRBMs near Taiwan as a show of force.

The parade is also expected to display the new supersonic HF-3 anti-ship missile, the latest in a list of indigenously designed missiles that include the HF-1/2 anti-ship missiles, Tien Kung 1/2 (Sky Bow) air defense missiles, Tien Chien 1/2 (Sky Sword) air-to-air missiles, and the Tien Chien 2A anti-radiation missile.

Taiwan has reportedly been working on both a short- and medium-range ballistic missile based on the Tien Kung. There have also been unconfirmed reports that Taiwan modified about 50 Tien Kung missiles into surface-to-surface missiles in the mid-1990s, based in silos on Tungyin Island, just north of Matsu. Tungyin is also the site of a major radar facility outfitted with two radars: AN/TPS-59 Tactical Missile Defense Radar and AN/FPS-117 Long Range Radar. There are unconfirmed reports that Taiwan has deployed shore-based HF-2 anti-ship missiles on the island. Tungyin is only 16 kilometers from China’s northern coast of Fujian province and makes for a strategic location to engage Chinese fighters and engage warships in the northern part of the Taiwan Strait.