Taiwan Shows Off Base for Tien Kung Missiles
BY WENDELL MINNICK
Sanchih, Taiwan — Journalists were given a rare glimpse of a Taiwanese Tien Kung (Sky Bow) surface-to-air missile base, as military officials here expressed concern over increased Chinese fighter jet activity in the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan’s Air Force Air Defense Missile Command provided the Jan. 15 tour of the base at Sanchih in northwest Taiwan near Tamshui.
The base is operated by the 611 Battalion of the 951 Brigade. Military officials showed an underground bunker containing silos housing TK-2s, and showcased a drill on a TK-1 road-mobile missile system. Two road-mobile TK-1 missile launch systems were on display, each with four missile modules. Capt. Kao Shu-li, the company commander, said the TK-1 could lock onto and destroy an aircraft in less than five minutes.
The entrances of three underground bunkers were visible, but the military allowed the media to inspect only one bunker containing four silos. Each silo held four TK-2 modules (for a total of 16 TK-2s). The entire bunker system was not revealed, but the base probably has 48 TK-2 missile modules in 12 separate silos.
The base has a command-and-control facility that can track up to 104 planes simultaneously. The military displayed one fixed, phased-array radar with a range of 280 to 300 kilometers. The TK-1, at Mach. 3.7, has a range of 100 kilometers at an altitude ceiling of 23 kilometers; the TK-2, at Mach. 4.2, has a range of 200 kilometers at an altitude ceiling of 25 kilometers.
The Sanchih facility is only about 150 kilometers from China’s Fujian Province and well within range to strike airborne targets in China. The width of the Taiwan Strait varies from 130 to 220 kilometers.
The TK also has electronic countermeasures to defeat standoff jammer and self-screening jammer threats. Both missiles have midcourse direction guidance and semi-active (TK-1) and active (TK-2) seekers for terminal homing against various types of aircraft.
An Air Force spokesman, Lt. Gen. Liu Chieh-tsen, indicated that China had increased fighter activity in the Taiwan Strait and expressed concern over acquisitions of new Russian fighters by China.
The Sanchih base is one of five known TK bases. Taiwan has a base on Tungyin Island, north of Matsu Island, two in Kaohsiung County at Linyuan and Tatushan, and one in Taichung County.
The TK base at Tungyin, a granite rock island only 16 kilometers from China, reportedly has 50 TK-2s in silos. There were unconfirmed reports out of China that the Tungyin base was upgraded after the 1996 Taiwan Strait missile crisis with a modified TK that can hit land targets.
Tungyin also has a major radar facility equipped with an AN/TPS-59 Tactical Missile Defense Radar and an AN/FPS-117 Long Range Radar.
Developed by the military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, an institute source said, the TK-2 has some anti-tactical ballistic missile (ATBM) capability and “is better than the Patriot PAC-2.”
At the 10/10 Parade in October, the military revealed the new TK-3 ATBM with a range of 300 kilometers and the supersonic Hsiung Feng 3 (Brave Wind) anti-ship missile with a range of 150 to 300 kilometers.
The institute also has developed a land attack cruise missile, the HF-2E, armed with a 400-kilogram warhead with a range of 600 kilometers.
The HF-2E has caused some tension between the United States and Taiwan. U.S. government officials have discouraged Taipei from building the missile, fearing an angry response from Beijing.
However, critics of U.S. attempts to kill the program argue that China has more than 1,000 short-range ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan with no quid pro quo from Taipei.
The production budget for the first series of HF-2E, scheduled to begin this year, was slashed by Taiwan’s legislature recently.