Taiwan describes new advanced missile and drone attack capabilities

12 F-16V fighter jets perform an elephant walk during an annual New Year exercise in Chiayi, Taiwan Jan. 5, 2022. REUTERS/Ann Wang/File Photo

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TAIPEI, April 22 (Reuters) – Taiwan is developing missiles that can attack enemy air bases and launch cruise missiles, as well as drones that can target their launch sites, according to a report by the military’s weapons-manufacturing facility.

Taiwan last year approved an additional T$240 billion ($8.20 billion) in military spending over the next five years as tensions with China, which claims the island as its own territory, hit a new high and Chinese military planes have repeatedly flown through Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.

Taiwan plans to more than double its annual missile production capacity to nearly 500 this year, the island’s defense ministry said last month, as it bolsters its combat capability. Continue reading

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In a report to parliament this week, a copy of which was verified by Reuters, the military-owned Chung Shan National Institute of Science and Technology offered more details on what the missiles and drones it is developing do in one could cause war.

The Hsiung Sheng land-attack missile, which experts say could have a range of up to 1,000 km, comes in two versions: one with a high-explosive warhead to hit bunkers and hardened command centers, and another with “propagation.” “Ammunition to take away from airfield facilities, it said.

Chieh Chung, a researcher with the Taipei-based National Policy Foundation, said the Hsiung Sheng could reach most bases of the PLA’s Eastern Theater Command, including those near Shanghai and Zhejiang province.

“It could greatly increase the national army’s ability to delay or cripple the pace of communist forces in an invasion of Taiwan, making it more difficult for them to wage a quick war,” he said.

The advanced surface-to-air missile Sky Bow III is designed to shoot down ballistic and cruise missiles as well as fighter aircraft.

Taiwan’s plans predate Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but the war has sparked talks about the lessons Taiwan could learn in repelling a Chinese attack, including how Ukraine held up a numerically superior force. Continue reading

A Taiwan-based Western security source told Reuters that while Taiwan is getting equipment like Harpoon anti-ship missiles from the United States, its own missile program would help the island not rely on foreign supplies like Ukraine.

“It’s a hedging strategy,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

The institute said drones, which Ukraine has used to great effect against the Russian military, could attack enemy missile launch sites or act as decoys to locate enemy radars.

Four new facilities will be built for the new drones by 2025, including bases and repair facilities, it said.

The Department of Defense has previously announced plans to begin manufacturing unspecified “attack drones” with an annual production target of 48 such aircraft.

Little has been known about the domestically produced drones. The first batch of US-made MQ-9 Reaper drones, armed with missiles and capable of long-range operations, will enter service in Taiwan by 2025, the Defense Department said last month.

About 64% of Taiwan’s additional military spending, on top of the planned military spending of T$471.7 billion for 2022, will be spent on anti-ship weapons such as land-based missile systems, including a T$148.9 billion plan to mass-produce home-made missiles and “high-performance “-Ships. Continue reading

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has made military modernization a top priority, pushing for defense projects including a new class of stealth warships and homebuilt submarines.

Tsai has championed what she calls “asymmetric warfare”: the development of highly technological, highly mobile weapons that are difficult to destroy and allow for precision strikes.

Taiwan believes China has aimed thousands of missiles at its territory and Chinese forces are dwarfing Taiwan’s. China also has nuclear weapons, which Taiwan does not have.

China has never ruled out using force to take control of the democratic island.

($1 = 29.2790 Taiwan Dollars)

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Reporting by Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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