This week, the Republic of China Navy (ROCN) commissioned its first self-developed guided missile corvette named Tuo Chiang (Tuo River).The 500-ton Tuo Chiang-class multi-mission warship, dubbed the “carrier killer” by Taiwanese media, will be the prototype for up to a dozen such vessels as part of a 25 billion New Taiwan dollar (about $791 million) naval expansion program approved by the Taiwanese legislature in 2011.
The Tuo Chiang-class high-speed corvette boasts a maximum speed of 44 knots (about 81 kph) and a range of 2,000 nautical miles (about 3,704 km). It is reportedly expected to remain in service for 25 years.
The twin-hulled vessel is Taiwan’s largest-ever missile ship and is equipped with the country’s latest stealth technology, as well as domestically built anti-ship missiles (16 of them according to Defense News).
Public sources claim that the the ship is armed with the Hsiung Feng III (HF-3) ramjet-powered supersonic anti-ship missile, specifically designed to target People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) surface vessels, including the PLAN’s new aircraft carrier.
“The HF-3, manufactured by the defence ministry’s Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST), is touted as Taiwan’s most potent weapon against the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN’s) aircraft carrier,” according to IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly.
Additionally, the Taipei Times reports that the ship will be “equipped with eight Hsiung Feng II (HF-2) and Hsiung Feng III (HF-3) anti-ship missiles, as well as a 76mm rapid-fire bow gun.” The article also notes that the ship’s design was inspired by the recently commissioned PLAN’s 220-ton Houbei-class Type 022 catamaran.
The commissioning ceremony of the vessel took place at the ROCN’s Zuoying base in southern Taiwan. President Ma Ying-jeou presided over the ceremony and emphasized in his speech that the new military hardware “demonstrates the island’s success in improving its shipbuilding capabilities” and will help “extend the navy’s maritime combat capabilities.” He also praised the vessel’s “stealth and speed.”
Back in December 2014, Taiwan’s Minister of Defense Yen Ming noted that the completion of this new warship marked a “milestone” in the development of the country’s naval combat capabilities: “The Tuo Jiang is the fastest and most powerful vessel of its kind in Asia, and underscores the Navy’s success in implementing the national policy of creating a self-sustaining defense.”
Along with the Tuo Chiang the ROCN also commissioned the 20,000-ton fast combat support ship Panshih this week. According to media reports, the Tuo Jiang will be based with the 131st Fleet in Keelung in northern Taiwan, whereas the Panshih will be stationed with the 151st Fleet, based in Zuoying.