Friday, February 24, 2012

Taiwanese subs to be equipped with Harpoon missiles

After fire control systems and launch tubes are modified, the pair of Dutch-made subs will be capable of firing surface-to-surface missiles within a range of about 125km

Taiwan’s two combat-capable submarines will be equipped with anti-ship missiles next year, providing the nation’s undersea force with a long-distance strike capability it had previously lacked.

The Chinese-language United Daily News reported on Wednesday that more than 30 US-built surface-to-surface Harpoon cruise missiles would become operational on the two Hailung-class submarines sometime next year. The subsonic sea-skimming missiles, which have a range of about 125km, will bring targets along the Chinese coast within range.

The navy recently test-fired the weapons in the US in preparation for their installation on the Dutch-built submarines, the report said, citing unnamed navy sources.

A US$6.4 billion arms package notified to US Congress in October 2008 included 32 UGM-84L sub-launched Harpoon Block II missiles, plus two UTM-84L exercise missiles and two weapon control systems.

Integrating the Harpoon missiles requires substantial modifications to existing fire control systems and launch tubes and some defense analysts have been skeptical as to whether the Hailungs could accommodate them. But according to a former navy officer, this is the real deal.

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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