12 Desember 2010

Taiwan Readies Mass Production of Cruise Missiles

12 Desember 2010

Hsiung Feng 2Eland attack cruise missile (photo : asiandefence)

TAIPEI - Taiwan is preparing for the mass production of the Hsiung Feng 2E (HF-2E) land attack cruise missile (LACM) and the Hsiung Feng 3 (HF-3) anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM).

Taiwan's Deputy Defense Minister Chao Shih-chang told legislators on Nov. 8 that production for the two missiles had already begun. Chao made the comments during questioning by the Legislative Yuan's Foreign and Defense Committee. In response to a question about the missiles by legislator Lin Yu-fang of the ruling party Kuomintang (KMT), Chao said the programs, code-named the Chichun (Lance Hawk) and Chuifeng (Chasing Wind), were "progressing smoothly."

An official with the Ministry of National Defense (MND) clarified the confusion over the designations used to describe the programs. "The code names are changed every year or two for security reasons." The Chichun is the HF-2E and the Chuifeng is the HF-3, he said. The source also corrected some media reports that indicated Chao had stated "mass production" had begun. "A few have been produced and could be fielded in case of war," the MND source said.

The military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST) produces the Hsiung Feng (Brave Wind) missile family, which includes the HF-1 and HF-2 anti-ship missiles. CSIST is the primary research and development organization for the military. It is also developing a new air-defense missile system, Tien Kung 3 (Sky Bow 3), comparable to the Patriot PAC-2 air-defense system.

The HF-3 ASCM was unveiled to the public during the 2007 Ten-Ten (Oct. 10) Parade in Taipei. Defense News later sighted it in January 2008 being outfitted on the1101 Cheng Kung, a Perry-class frigate, at the weapons loading dock at Tsoying Naval Base, Kaohsiung. It was later spotted again on the same frigate earlier this year during a base visit.

Hsiung Feng 3 anti ship cruise missile (photo : china defense mashup)

The HF-2E LACM has been a source of controversy between Taipei and Washington.

There has been pressure by the U.S. to kill the program, according to a Taiwan defense analyst based in Taipei.

However, China continues to deploy more short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) and new cruise missiles along its coast targeting Taiwan. The only alternative is to deploy a counter response to that threat, he said. China currently has roughly 1,300 to 1,500 SRBMs aimed at the island. Taiwan has no offensive missile capability.

The HF-2E could "be a tactical deterrent and strategic bargaining chip in possible military confidence-building measures" with China, said the analyst.

"Should military conflict become unavoidable, firing LACMs from Taiwan could indirectly give the U.S. some flexibility in diplomatic terms," he said. If the U.S. continues to insist Taiwan not have any offensive capability the burden for ground strikes on the Chinese mainland are placed directly on the shoulders of the U.S. military, the analyst said.

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