Surface Forces: Taiwan Upgrades Its Seagoing Missiles

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November 28, 2013: Taiwan is upgrading the weapons on most of its warships. The six French La Fayette class frigates will receive new anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles. The new supersonic Hsiung Feng 3 anti-ship missile will replace the less capable Hsiung Feng 2. The 6.1 meter (19 foot) long Hsiung-feng 3 weighs 1.5 tons, has a 181 kg (400 pound) warhead, and a top speed of 2,300 kilometers an hour. Max range is 300 kilometers. It uses inertial and GPS guidance to get to the general vicinity of the target, then several other sensors to lock on to a specific ship and hit it. The smaller Hsiung-feng 2 has a range of 160 kilometers and less extensive electronics.

The new anti-aircraft system is also locally made. This is a ship mounted version of the Sky Sword II air-to-air missile. This 203mm missile weighs 190 kg (418 pounds), has a range of 100 kilometers, and is radar guided. The air-to-air version of Sky Sword II entered service in 1999 and was developed because the United States would not supply Taiwan with AMRAAM.

The La Fayette class frigates are 3,600 ton ships that are 125 meters (410 feet) long and have a top speed of 46 kilometers an hour. The crew of 141 can stay at sea for fifty days at a time. The La Fayettes were originally armed with a 100mm gun, two 20mm autocannon, eight Hsiung-feng 2 anti-ship missiles, and a Chaparral anti-aircraft missile system (four Sidewinder heat seeking missiles with a range of 10 kilometers). 

 


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