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Supersonic missile key to Taiwan's defense against China: lawmaker

2012/05/16 17:15:50

Taipei, May 16 (CNA) Taiwan's locally developed supersonic anti-ship missile enhances the country's defense capabilities in the face of China's ongoing military expansion, a lawmaker said Wednesday.

Ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang said the Hsiung Feng (Brave Wind) III missile is an important part of Taiwan's arsenal because China is modernizing its naval fleet and preparing to commission its first aircraft carrier.

Deploying the weapon on military boats and frigates "will beef up our combat capabilities," Lin told the local media at northern Taiwan's Keelung Harbor after inspecting a patrol boat that has recently been outfitted with the Hsiung Feng III.

Along with three other lawmakers of the KMT and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, Lin also gave the thumbs up to the Navy's combat readiness after witnessing a drill onboard the Keelung-based Chinchiang missile patrol boat to see how military personnel launch the missiles in the event of war.

With a range of about 150 kilometers, the supersonic weapon is dubbed "aircraft carrier killer." It is manufactured by the Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology in Taoyuan, the defense ministry's main research and development unit.

The Hsiung Feng III was first unveiled in 2007 at a National Day military parade in Taiwan.

Also at the Keelung Harbor are a fleet of three frigates that recently completed a good-will voyage to some of Taiwan's diplomatic allies.

It was reported in the local media that a Chengkung-class frigate, among the fleet, sailed to Taiwan-controlled Taiping Island in the disputed South China Sea, during its 50-day voyage that concluded in late April.

Asked on the report, Lin said the journey of the Chengkung-class frigate, which is equipped with Hsiung Feng III missiles, to Taiping amid growing tensions in the region, served as a deterrent to neighboring countries that may attempt to enter Taiwan's territory.

The South China Sea region, thought to be rich in oil deposits and marine biodiversity, is claimed either entirely or in part by Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the three frigates at Keelung Harbor will be opened to the public May 18-19. Visitors will have an opportunity to gain a glimpse of how the Navy promotes ties with Taiwan's diplomatic allies.

(By Elaine Hou)