China's first aircraft carrier Varyag has gone on seven rounds of sea trials, according to local media reports.
The reports also cited military sources as saying that Taiwan has decided to have its 500-ton Chinchiang-class warships fitted with its locally developed Hsiungfeng III supersonic anti-ship missiles as part of its asymmetric warfare strategy in the face of China's fast military expansion.
The Hsiungfeng III (Brave Wind III) missile, developed by the military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, is designed to target China's surface warships, including its aircraft carrier, the reports said.
The following are excerpts from local media coverage of the military's missile deployment plans:
Five of the Navy's 3,000-ton Chengkung-class frigates have been fitted with Hsiungfeng III missiles, military sources said.
In addition, a Chinchiang-class naval vessel has also been equipped with four Hsiungfeng III missiles.
The military is scheduled to produce 120 Hsiungfeng missiles by next year under a NT$12 billion (US$40.96 million) project. All of the eight Chengkung-class frigates will be fitted with Hsiungfeng III missiles.
Moreover, all of the Navy's seven Chingchiang-class warships will also be equipped with this supersonic anti-ship missile.
Military sources said Taiwan, Russia and India are the only three countries in the world that have successfully developed this type of supersonic anti-ship missile.
Hsiungfeng III missile was originally designed to have a shooting range of 300 kilometers, but its effective shooting range is only about 150 km. Previous reports said the military was planning to extend the missile's range. However, the Navy denied the report, saying the military has no such a plan.
With Chengkung-class frigates and Chingchiang warships fitted with Hsiungfeng III missiles, Taiwan should be able to enhance its naval deterrent force.
Meanwhile, military sources said five Chinese warships navigated southward through waters east of Taiwan last Friday.
As the fleet kept staying 400 nautical miles away, the sources, it should have no intention of intimidating Taiwan. Its passage should be part of China's efforts to flex its muscle amid a standoff with the Philippines over conflicting claims to disputed Huangyen Islands in the South China Sea, the sources said.
Since Taiwan has deployed Hsiungfeng II anti-ship missiles along its eastern coast, the sources said, Chinese naval fleets have usually kept certain distance when passing through waters around Taiwan to protect its shipboard intelligence systems from being detected by Taiwanese military personnel. (May 14, 2012).
Some U.S. and Chinese military experts said recently that Taiwan's planned "wolf pack" strategy to cope with China's aircraft carrier or large-scale warships may not be as effective as expected.
The "wolf pack" strategy refers to using locally developed supersonic Hsiungfeng II and Hsiungfeng III anti-ship missiles fitted on many frigates and speed missile boats to target large Chinese warships.
American military experts said such a strategy cannot work unless Taiwan has well-trained elite military personnel to carry out relevant operations. (May 14, 2012).
(By Sofia Wu)