Taiwan closely watching China's latest weapon development: military

10/19/2021 02:46 PM
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Ministry of National Defense spokesman Shih Shun-wen. CNA file photo
Ministry of National Defense spokesman Shih Shun-wen. CNA file photo

Taipei, Oct. 19 (CNA) Taiwan is closely monitoring China's latest advanced weapon development, a military spokesman said Tuesday, in response to media reports that Beijing tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile earlier this year, raising concerns of the United States.

"It is the armed forces' job to have a full grasp of the Chinese Communist regime's latest development in terms of armaments and advanced weapon systems," Ministry of National Defense spokesman Shih Shun-wen (史順文) said during a news briefing.

The military will make a proper evaluation of China's latest weapons and develop a responsive strategy and capabilities to safeguard national security, he said without elaborating.

Shih's comments came after the Financial Times published an article Saturday which quoted five unnamed sources as saying that China had launched a hypersonic missile in the summer.

The missile flew through low-orbit space before cruising down and narrowly missing its target, the report said.

Two individuals quoted in the article said "the test showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than U.S. officials realized."

Hypersonic missiles are much faster and more agile than normal ones, meaning they are more difficult to intercept.

On Monday, U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood said Washington was "very concerned," adding that it "had held back from pursuing military applications for this technology."

China, however, has denied the Financial Times report, insisting instead that the test had actually been a routine spacecraft check.

Meanwhile, Shih said on Tuesday the military had no comment about a CNN report on Sunday which said that Taipei and Washington are discussing the early delivery of F-16V fighter jets ordered by Taiwan, amid rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan has purchased 66 new F-16Vs from the U.S., and delivery is expected to start in 2023. However, due to the increasingly urgent security situation, Taiwan has asked the U.S. to deliver the F-16Vs earlier, starting in 2022, according to the CNN.

Aside from the brand-new 66 new F-16Vs Taiwan bought from the U.S., Taiwan's Air Force also launched a program in 2016 to retrofit all of its 141 F-16 A/Bs into F-16Vs with more advanced avionics including APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar, a Helmet Mounted Cueing System, and other flight management and electronic warfare systems.

A military source familiar with the matter told CNA last month that the Air Force has already successfully upgraded at least 42 of the 141 F-16 A/B jet fighters to the new F-16V standards.

The Air Force has previously said the upgrading of all 141 F-16A/Bs will be completed by 2023 as well.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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