Strategic Weapons: Taiwan's Secret Missiles

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May 1, 2011:  A government official revealed that Taiwan had developed a IRBM (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile) with a range of 2,000 kilometers. The missile was successfully tested three years ago. Nothing was said about production. Seven years ago, Taiwanese officials discussed developing a 2,000 kilometer range IRBM, and manufacturing 30 of them, along with 120 with a range of 1,000 kilometers. Over the last decade, there have been reports of several different Taiwanese ballistic and cruise missiles developed for use against China. But few of these have been produced, or have been manufactured under great secrecy. Meanwhile, China has deployed about 1,500 ballistic missiles within range of Taiwan.

A decade ago, Taiwan apparently deployed 50 Tien Chi (Sky Spear) SRBM (Short Range Ballistic Missiles). Half were in silos on Tungyin Island, and the rest in some other location. Like most of Taiwan's Surface-to-surface missiles, it was based on a locally developed surface-to-air missile (in this case, Tien Kung 2/Sky Bow 2), with the addition of a booster to extend the range. The Tien Chi had a range of about 500 kilometers, but a small (100 kg/220 pound) warhead. The new IRBMs have a warhead of about half a ton.

Taiwan does not have nuclear weapons, although the nation possesses the technical resources to develop such weapons, and perform the engineering work to make these nukes function in a ballistic missile. But Taiwan would be taking a big risk to attempt development of nukes. If China got word of the project, before useable warheads were in service (and thus able to dissuade China from attacking), the Chinese might well invade right away, or at least try to.

 

 


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