March 20, 2009:
For the last five years, Taiwan has been reducing its armed forces from 350,000 back then, to 275,000 now and 215,000 by 2014. At that point, the military will be all volunteer. Conscription has long been unpopular, and fewer troops will mean more money for new equipment.
Defending the island against Chinese attack is seen more a matter of technology than masses of troops. To that end, Taiwan has resumed development and production of the Hsiung Feng 2E cruise missile. This project was halted 17 months ago to appease China, but that didn't work. Taiwan has also developed its own laser guided bomb kits (like the U.S. JDAM).
The Hsiung Feng 2E is a 19 foot long cruise missile that weighs a ton (with a 450 pound warhead) and has a top speed of 800 kilometers an hour. Max range is 600 kilometers. It uses inertial and GPS guidance. The Hsiung Feng 2E was developed from the Hsiung Feng 2 anti-ship missile. This was a smaller weapon (.685 ton), with a range of 160 kilometers. It entered service in the early 1990s, and by the late 1990s, developers were working on turning it into a cruise missile. The Hsiung Feng 2E can be launched from ships or from land and can threaten Chinese targets several hundred kilometers inland.
The U.S. recently refused a Taiwanese request to buy 60 F-16 fighters, because China was very much opposed to it. So Taiwan is building more weapons that it has designed itself.