Taiwan Unveils Road-Mobile “Carrier Killer” Launcher
The new road mobile HF-3 launcher
Image Credit: J. Michael Cole

Taiwan Unveils Road-Mobile “Carrier Killer” Launcher


In yet another sign that Taiwan is taking the threat of a Chinese sea attack seriously, the Taiwan Navy this week introduced a land-based version of the indigenous Hsiung Feng “Brave Wind” 3 (HF-3) supersonic anti-ship cruise missile at the Taipei Aerospace & Defense Technology Exhibition (TADTE).

Designed by the Armaments’ Bureau’s Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST), the HF-3 “carrier killer” was the highlight of TADTE 2011, where it was showcased as a direct response to China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which had just embarked on its maiden sea trial. The display showed an aircraft carrier that bore a striking resemblance to the Liaoning being repeatedly struck by HF-3 missiles.

Production of the ramjet-powered supersonic anti-ship missile began in 2007. Since then, Cheng Kung-class (Perry) and Ching Chiang-class vessels have been outfitted with the HF-3, which can reach targets within a range of 130km. A new 500-ton radar-evasive fast attack corvette, which is also featured at TADTE 2013, will also be outfitted with the HF-3.

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TADTE 2013 runs from Aug. 15 through Aug. 18 at the World Trade Center Exhibition Hall 1.

Until this week, the Ministry of National Defense had not confirmed the existence of a road-mobile launcher for the HF-3. According to officials, the launch canisters are the same as those used in the sea-based version. Defense News reported that the vehicle was built by DAF Trucks, a Dutch company. A similar-looking road-mobile launcher for the CSIST’s Hsiung Feng IIE (HF-2E) land-attack cruise missile has also entered service in the past year.

A road mobile HF-3 launcher on display at TADTE this week.

Navy personnel at the show said the road-mobile launcher was still in the prototype stage and would not discuss the expected deployment timeline or how many launchers are expected to be introduced.

The addition of a land-based HF-3 component will add depth to Taiwan’s ability to counter the threat of an amphibious attack by China. Among other things, road-mobile launchers are more easily concealable than large sea vessels and can be dispersed around the island. This will increase the HF-3’s survivability, which is currently limited by the fact that ships limited to a few naval ports are highly vulnerable to missile and air attacks by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Another highlight of this year’s TADTE is the Navy’s fast-combat support ship. Under development by the Naval Shipbuilding Development Center (NSDC) and Ship Ocean Industries R&D Center (SOIC) since 2011, the support ship is now being built by Chinese Shipbuilding Corporation (CSBC). According to officials present at the booth, the Navy intends to build only one ship. Based on the information provided at the display, the ship is 196 meters long and 26.87 meters wide, with an operational range of 8,000 nautical miles and displacement of approximately 10,000 tons. It will reportedly have better replenishment capabilities, greater mobility, and self-defense capabilities. It also features a helipad in the aft section.

According to recent reports, CSBC will also soon begin construction of six domestic mine-sweeping vessels.

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