Mass production of the Taiwan-made “Hsiungfeng” (Brave Wind) 2E, which have a range of 500 kilometres (300 miles), has been completed and the missiles have come into service, the Liberty Times said, citing an unnamed military source.
The defence ministry declined to comment on the report, but the paper said the project, codenamed “Chichun” (Lance Hawk), had cost the military around Tw$30 billion ($1.02 billion).
Taiwanese experts estimate that China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army, has more than 1,600 missiles aimed at the island.
“To some extent, the weaponry can serve as a deterrent,” Kevin Cheng, the editor-in-chief of the Taipei-based Asia-Pacific Defense Magazine, told AFP.
“In case of war in the Taiwan Strait, the missiles could be used to attack the airports and other military bases of the People’s Liberation Army.”
He estimated that there were more than 100 of the Hsiungfeng 2E missiles pointing at China.
Song Jaw Wen, a member of a panel of experts invited by the military to screen Taiwan’s 2011 National Defence Report, said it was the first time cruise missiles had been aimed at China.
Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have eased since Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang came to power in 2008 on a platform of beefing up trade links and allowing in more Chinese tourists.
Ma was re-elected in January for his second and last four-year term.
However, China still refuses to renounce the possible use of force against the island in its long-stated goal of re-taking Taiwan.
According to Taiwan Defense Review (TDR), the HF-2E land attack cruise missile is not a derivative of the Hsiung Feng 2 HF-2 anti-ship missile as it is often incorrectly reported. The use of the “HF-2E” designation is the primary caused of this confusion and was intentionally done to divert attention away from the true nature of the project. The HF-2E is actually a completely different design and is said to be very similar in configuration to the US Navy Tomahawk (RGM-109) cruise missile. Its launch weight is reported to be in the 3,300-3,500 lbs range, including its solid rocket booster.
It is essentially a tactical land attack cruise missile designed for use against military target sets, particularly air-defense fire units and command-and-control facilities and its relatively small warhead size and the rather limited number of missiles planned for procurement clearly suggest that this is not a “first strike” weapon.
The project was first announced in 2001. Following several test firings in 2004 and early 2005 at the Jiu Peng Missile Range in southeastern Taiwan, the baseline HF-2E (Block I) has completed its operational evaluation (OPEVAL) in 2005, the missile flew a low-altitude circuit off Taiwan’s southeastern coastline, between Pingtung and Lanyu Island. An improved HF-2E missile was reportedly tested by CSIST at Jui Peng Missile Range on February 2, 2007.
On 10 January 2006, Jane’s Defense Weekly reported that Taiwan has built three prototypes of the HF-2E, and plans to build up to 50 of the missiles by 2010, and up to 500 missiles after 2010. The missiles have a range of over 600 km and could threaten major Chinese cities such as Shanghai. Jane’s claimed that the HF-2E could reach ranges of up to 1000 km when equipped with more powerful engines from the US, although the US refuses to provide such technology to Taiwan due to concerns over the Missile Technology Control Regime.
The baseline HF-2E Block I land attack cruise missile (LACM) is said to be powered by an indigenously-developed turbofan engine believed to be rated in the 700 lbf (3.1 kN) thrust range and developed by CSIST partially based on technology and experience from the Microturbo 078 turbojet engine used on the Hsiung Feng 2 (HF-2) anti-ship cruise missiles. When equipped with a standard unitary high-explosive 1,000-lb-class warhead, it is said to have a maximum range of 600 km. Other types of warhead are said to be in development, such as cluster submunitions and a hard target penetrator warhead. TDR also reported that through modification of the existing engine and combined with the redesign and reduction of the missile’s control and electronic systems, CSIST was able to free-up enough internal space/weight in the missile to allow it to carry additional fuel and extend its range to 1,000km, although a Defense News report claimed the other version was only an 800km range missile. The ultimate objective is to develop a missile that has an objective range of up to 2,000km, using an improved power plant with better fuel efficiency and mission endurance, and possibly a lighter warhead.
The HF-2E Block I missile uses inertial navigation guidance with Global Positioning System (GPS) and terrain matching updates. For terminal guidance, it uses an Imaging infrared IIR with an autonomous digital target recognition system. The IIR terminal seeker is used for target acquisition and to positively identify an optimal aim point. The target image is then compared against digitized files in the memory of the on-board guidance computer. The HF-2E block I missile’s cruising speed is high subsonic, typically between Mach 0.75-0.85 range. When the missile approaches hostile territory, it would descend to an altitude of about 15-30m. On its final approach to its target, the missile would climb-up to avoid any physical barriers and to allow its IIR seeker to acquire the target and identify an optimal aim point before plunging down onto the designated impact point. The report in Taiwan Defense Review, credited the HF-2E block I missile with a pre-terminal accuracy of around 15m.
HF-2E missile will primarily be deployed operationally in ground-mobile launchers. The launcher vehicle will carry the HF-2E missiles in protective aluminum box launchers, with wings and control fins retracted, conceptually similar to the trailer-mounted mobile launchers for Tien Kung Sky Bow series surface-to-air missiles and HF-2 coastal defense missiles. The launchers will normally be based in hardened shelters at military installations, with deployment to remote, pre-surveyed launch sites during alert situations.
The low-rate production of the Block I missile was to have started in 7/2005, using funds originally allocated for its R&D, at least five missiles were built. The unit cost per missile was estimated to be at US$3.08 million (2003 US$ dollar value). Another report made in 2006, claimed that three batteries comprising twenty-four mobile launchers and forty-eight missiles were in the final stages of testing and may be fielded within two years.
HF-2E is currently in low volume production in the Project ChiChun (戟隼, jǐ zhǔn, lance hawk). A TaipeiTimes’ news report claimed that President Ma Ying Jeou ordered the production of 300 HF-2E missiles in 2008. Now approved and cleared to enter full volume/serial production in 2011.
Waste so much money to built on outdated technology where the pre-terminal accuracy would be 500m instead of 15m as claimed, and the speed of Mach 0.75-0.85 range is more like a slow moving cruiser which is going to be more like a sitting duck with a range of 600km, only advantage it is mounted on mobile launchers which could be quickly deployed, new technologies has already rendered your attack capabilities to almost nil. America with it’s defence treaties cannot sell you the latest missile technologies that will pose a threat to China. You are better off buying the Air Defence System “Iron Drome II” from Isreal. I am not a salesman and I have no benefits promoting this, I just speak the truth.
– Contributed by Oogle