Taiwan to boost indigenous missile and drone production

As reported by Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard on WTVB, Taiwan is developing missiles that can attack enemy air bases and bring down cruise missiles, and drones that can target their firing locations, according to a report by the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology. Taiwan in 2021 approved $8.20 billion in extra military spending over the next five years as tensions with China have hit a new high and Chinese military planes have repeatedly flown several times through Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ).
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Hsiung Feng IIE missile launch (Picture source: NCSIST)

Taiwan plans to more than double its yearly missile production capacity to close to 500 this year, the island’s defence ministry said in March, as it boosts its combat power. In a report to the Taiwanese Parliament this week, a copy of which was reviewed by Reuters, the military-owned National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology offered more details of what the missiles and drones it is developing could do in a war: the Hsiung Sheng land-attack missile, which could have a range of up to 1,000km – comes in two versions: one with a high-explosive warhead to hit bunkers and hardened command centres, and other with “dispersal” munitions to take out airfield facilities. It could reach most bases under the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command, including those near Shanghai and the province of Zhejiang.

The advanced Sky Bow III surface-to-air missile is designed to take down ballistic and cruise missiles, as well as fighter jets.

Although Taiwan is getting weapons such as Harpoon anti-ship missiles from the United States, its own missile programme would help ensure the island would not have to rely on foreign supplies, as Ukraine has.

Four new facilities, including bases and repair plants, would be built by 2025 for the new drones, Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard report. The Defence Ministry has previously announced plans to start manufacturing unspecified “attack drones” with an annual production target of 48 such aircraft.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has made modernising the military a top priority, pushing for defence projects including a new class of stealthy warships and home-grown submarines. Tsai has championed what she calls “asymmetric warfare”: developing high-tech, highly mobile weapons that are hard to destroy and can deliver precision attacks, Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard report.

Setting up anti-ship missile squadrons

According to Taiwan News, Taiwan plans to establish anti-ship missile squadrons to counter potential invading Chinese naval forces. The first phase will involve setting up relevant facilities for anti-ship missile mobile squadrons in various counties and cities in southern Taiwan, per the Liberty Times.

Currently, the Navy’s Haifeng Brigade has added a new squadron, which is equipped with Hsiung Feng II and III missiles. Once extended-range Hsiung Feng III missiles are mass-produced, the squadron will be deployed around Taiwan to improve maritime defense capabilities and strike Chinese troops that attempt to come onshore. The first stage of this plan began in 2017 and is expected to last until 2026 and will focus on acquiring Hsiung Feng II and III missiles and improving the performance of fixed-position missile systems and bolstering the number of mobile missile launchers, CNA reported. The second phase will last from 2023-to 2026 and will involve the continued amassing of Hsiung Feng II, Hsiung Feng III, and extended-range Hsiung Feng III missiles.