Monday, October 20, 2014

Taiwan tests submarine-launched Harpoon Missiles supplied by the USA

                  Taiwanese servicemen to load an air-to-air missile onto an F-16 fighter.

Taiwan's navy successfully test-fired two anti-ship missiles from a submarine in the first such exercise since the weapons were bought from the United States.

The Harpoon missiles were launched during a drill last week from the Hai Hu, or Sea Tiger, a Dutch-built conventional submarine.

The sea-skimming missiles, which have a range of 278km, would boost the attack capabilities of the two submarines previously only armed with torpedoes with a much more limited range, the naval sources were quoted as saying by the newspapers.

Taiwan, which already has Harpoon missiles installed on frigates and F-16 fighter jets, ordered the submarine-launched weapons in 2008 as part of a US$6.5 billion arms sale that was strongly criticised by Beijing.

The deal also included advanced interceptor Patriot missiles and some 30 Apache attack helicopters.

Ties between Taipei and Beijing have improved markedly since the island's president, Ma Ying-jeou, and his mainland-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) party came to power in 2008 promising to strengthen trade links and allow more mainlanders to visit the island. Ma was re-elected in 2012.

Beijing has repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan should the island declare formal independence, prompting Taipei to seek more advanced weapons, largely from the US.

However, it was reported last week that Taiwan was seeking US support to build its own submarines after failing to get the military hardware from the US or other countries.

Washington has not followed through with a 2001 deal to sell eight diesel-electric submarines over fears it could hurt mainland-US relations.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post


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