The Taiwan missile tech aimed at keeping a PLA attack at bay

Lawrence Chung
·4-min read

Taiwan has a stockpile of missiles that by some estimates is the world’s biggest in terms of number per unit of area.

Though the island’s defence ministry is unwilling to say exactly how big the stockpile is, the Taipei-based China Times newspaper has put the total at more than 6,000.

These weapons include missiles manufactured in the United States as well as well as locally designed and made products. They also range from air- and sea-launched to land-strike missiles.

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Missiles are a key element of Taiwan’s defence strategy in the face of mainland China’s much bigger People’s Liberation Army.

The missiles from the US include:

Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3): a long-range, all-altitude, all-weather air defence system to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft. It has been in service throughout the US, Germany, Greece, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Poland, Sweden, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Romania, Spain and Taiwan.

American company Lockheed Martin has been awarded a US$620 million contract to upgrade more than 440 PAC-3 missiles for Taiwan to reinforce the island’s arsenal.

Taiwan has deployed the missiles around Taipei for what local news media said was to prevent a decapitation strike of the island’s capital by the PLA. Others have also been deployed in central, southern and eastern Taiwan.

PAC-3 Patriot missiles have been deployed around the world. Photo: AP
PAC-3 Patriot missiles have been deployed around the world. Photo: AP

Avenger Air Defence System: a self-propelled surface-to-air missile system offering mobile, short-range air defence protection for ground units against cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, low-flying fixed-wing aircraft, and helicopters.

Harpoon: an all-weather, over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile.

Stinger: a portable air-defence system that operates as an infrared homing surface-to-air missile.

AIM-9 Sidewinder: a short-range air-to-air missile used by the navy.

The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a short-range air-to-air missile. Photo: AFP
The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a short-range air-to-air missile. Photo: AFP

Made-in-Taiwan missiles include:

Hsiung Feng 1 and 2 (Brave Wind 1 and Brave Wind 2): anti-ship missile systems developed by the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology in Taiwan.

Hsiung Feng 3: a medium-range supersonic missile capable of destroying both land-based targets and naval targets.

Hsiung Feng 2E: a surface-to-surface cruise missile system with a range of 1,000km (620 miles), putting the Yangtze River and Pearl River deltas within reach.

Wan Chien (Ten Thousand Swords): an air-to-ground cruise missile also developed and produced by the institute. It is believed to have a range of up to 200km and be capable of striking airfields near the mainland’s coast.

Tien Kung 1-3 (Sky Bow 1-3): a series of surface-to-air anti-ballistic missile and anti-aircraft defence systems developed by the institute. The Tien Kung-3’s firing range had been boosted from about 45km to about 70km, allowing it to intercept PLA guided missiles.

Tien Chien 1-2 (Sky Sword 1-2): a series of short-range infrared-guided air-to-air missiles with the fire and forget slave-by-radar capabilities. The Sky Sword 1 is also used as a surface-to-air missile by the Antelope air defence system.

Yun Feng (Cloud Peak): a supersonic land-attack missile said to be Taiwan’s most powerful weapon. It has a range of at least 1,500km, making it capable of striking targets in inner China, including Beijing, Tianjin in the north, Shanghai in the east and the Three Gorges Dam in central China. The Yun Feng is fitted with a ramjet engine and can carry a semi-armour-piercing high-explosive fragmentation warhead.

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