Taipei, Sept. 12 (CNA) Testing has been completed on long-range air-to-surface missile (ASM) developed by Taiwan, military sources said Wednesday.
If all goes well, mass production and deployment of the new weapon, known as the Wan Chien (Ten Thousand Swords) ASM, will begin in 2014, the sources said.
The new missile, developed by the military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, will be fitted on the upgraded Ching-kuo indigenous defense fighters (IDFs), according to the sources.
Local military experts said the Wan Chien missile is mainly designed to strike airports and will help upgrade the Republic of China Air Force's long-range strike capabilities.
The new missile is also known as a standoff missile, a weapon that may be launched at a distance sufficient to allow attacking personnel to evade defensive fire from the target area, military experts said.
Some media reports said the Taiwan-developed Wan Chien missile will function like the United States' AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile.
By attacking runways at enemy airports, military experts said, Taiwan would be able to gain the time needed to obtain foreign assistance in the event of a war in the Taiwan Strait.
According to a Ministry of National Defense (MND) budget report submitted this month to the Legislature, the Air Force has struck a deal with the state-run Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. to further upgrade the 71 IDF/F-CK-1 jet fighters stationed at Tainan air base in southern Taiwan.
The MND has budgeted a total of NT$17.06 billion (US$576.35 million) from 2009 through 2013 to finance the IDF upgrade program.
The upgraded IDFs will have advanced air-to-air and air-to-surface radar and sophisticated electronic warfare systems, military sources said.
(By Chen Pei-huang and Sofia Wu)