Taiwan Plans Test of New Anti-Ship Missile
By WENDELL MINNICK, TAIPEI
In what is believed to be a major advancement in Taiwan’s ability to defend itself, the Navy is preparing to test a new supersonic Hsiung Feng 3 (Brave Wind) anti-ship missile aboard a Perry-class frigate in September.
The HF-3 has a reported range of 150 to 200 kilometers at Mach 2, with a weight of 1,500 kilograms. A rocket booster and a ramjet sustainer engine power the HF-3.
The new missile will place much of China’s coastal facilities and naval bases within range of both ship-based and land-based HF-3s. This is a significant development in Taiwan’s defense strategy.
The distance between Taiwan and China is extremely narrow — 220 kilometers at its widest point and 130 kilometers at its narrowest. Chinese fighter aircraft can cross the Taiwan Strait in only seven minutes.
A Taiwan defense source said that research and development is ongoing, but Lee Jye, Taiwan’s minister of national defense, decided to make the missile a priority, and as soon as testing was complete it was to be deployed on Perry-class frigates to close the missile gap with China’s new Russian-built SS-N-22 Moskit Sunburn anti-ship missile. The Sunburn is fielded on China’s new Russian-built Sovremenny-class destroyers.
Photos of four HF-3 boxes mounted aboard the PFG 1101 Cheng Kung at Suao Navy Base on the northeast coast have flooded the media and Internet this week, angering Taiwan Ministry of National Defense (MND) officials. A ministry source told DefenseNews.com that the photos are fake, but in a bizarre twist also promised to prosecute the person who took the photos for revealing state secrets.
Media reports and other sources state that Taiwan’s Navy is preparing to test the new missile in September in a staged media event that will include President Chen Shui-bian. The test was originally planned for July, but recent typhoons forced the military to delay the test.
Taiwan has been pushing development of more effective offensive missile capability that would allow Taipei to strike back at China should it launch an attack.
The HF-3 is the third in the Hsiung Feng series of anti-ship missiles developed by the military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST). The HF-3 is believed to have begun development in the 1990s, with the first missile test in 2001 at Jiupeng Missile Testing Range in Taiwan’s southeast Pingtung County.
The HF-2, with a range of more than 100 kilometers and a speed of 0.85 Mach, was developed in the 1980s and early 1990s. It is powered by a two-stage system, first with a solid propellant booster and a turbojet for cruising. It has infrared and radar guidance and is deployed on Taiwan’s Perry-class and French-built Lafayette-class frigates. There is also a land-based and air-launched version.
The HF-1, with a range of 35 kilometers and a speed of 0.65 Mach, was developed during the 1970s and is based on the Israeli-made Gabriel anti-ship missile. The CSIST received Israeli assistance in the HF-1’s development. Powered by the a one-stage dual-thrust solid propellant rocket motor, the missile uses radar guidance plus terminal semi-active homing. It is fielded on the 56-ton Hai Ou-class (Seagull) fast attack missile patrol boats and land-based facilities.