Saturday, October 22, 2016
Taiwan looks to double the range of its formidable Hsiung Feng III (HF-3) hypersonic anti-ship missile so this missile can destroy invasion forces of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that might invade Taiwan before 2020.
The exact top speed of the HF-3 is unknown, but some experts believe to be in excess of Mach 10 (12,000 km/h). The HF-3 can carry a nuclear warhead.
A speed this fast would make the HF-3 faster than India’s BrahMos (touted as the world’s fastest anti-ship cruise missile) with a speed of Mach 3 (3,700 km/h) and China’s 3M-80MBE anti-ship missile, also with a speed of Mach 3.
China’s acquisition of Russia’s SS-N-22 Sunburn naval anti-ship missiles (from which the 3M-80MBE is derived), was the major reason Taiwan developed the HF-3.
The effectiveness of the HF-3, however, is limited by its short range of 150 kilometers, not enough to cover the 180 kilometer-wide Taiwan Strait separating Taiwan from mainland China. An invasion force from the PLA can traverse the strait in a few hours.
Taiwanese media reports the Republic of China Armed Forces is developing an HF-3 extended range (ER) version of the HF-3. Tests of this ER missile, which will likely have a range exceeding 300 km, are to be completed by late 2017.
The new version should enter mass production by 2018. Its longer range means this ER missile can be deployed in the mountains around Taipei to cover the entire Taiwan Strait.
The extended range will also allow the HF-3, which can also be used to destroy land targets, to reach farther inland from the coast of mainland China to attack PLA missile, amphibious and air force units in Fujian threatening Taiwan.
Taiwan published a report in 2015 that said China plans to attack Taiwan before 2020,
The new version might also retain the current HF-3’s warhead, a 225 kg Self-Forging Fragment, which is a special kind of shaped charge designed to penetrate armor at standoff distances.
HF-3 is in large scale volume production under project Chase Wind and is deployed on most missile boats of the Republic of China Navy, as well as mobile land platforms.
The HF-3 also arms the ROC Navy’s new Tuo Chiang-class corvettes, which are fast, twin-hull and stealthy multi-mission warships. The navy has one operational Tuo Chiang with 11 more on order.
This class is armed with a total of 16 anti-ship missiles: eight subsonic Hsiung Feng II and eight hypersonic Hsiung Feng III nuclear warhead- capable missiles.