Monday, September 26, 2005
Taiwan plans to equip its two Dutch-built submarines with Harpoon anti-ship missiles that could be used to attack key Chinese naval bases, Jane's Defence Weekly says.
If all goes smoothly, the two Sea Dragon diesel electric submarines would be armed with UGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, the defence weekly said in an article to be published Wednesday. It said the US navy had awarded McDonnell Douglas Corp, a Boeing subsidiary, a contract to coordinate and execute an on-site survey of the submarines for this purpose. Submarine-launched Harpoons are pre-loaded into a capsule and launched from a torpedo tube. The capsule rises to the surface and launches the missile. "If Taiwan procures the Block 2 Harpoons with coastal target suppression, Taiwan's submarines will have the capability of attacking coastal, in-harbour and land targets," Jane's said. "This will place China's key naval bases of Shantou, Xiamen, Sandu, Xiazhen, Shanghai and Zhoushan in Taiwan's crosshairs," it said. The Harpoon missile deal, following Russia's sale of Kh-41 anti-ship missiles to China, was part of a 2001 US arms package. Taiwan's military-run Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology had been working unsuccessfully on a submarine-launched version of its Hsiung Feng anti-ship missile, the journal said. Taiwan already has air and ship-launched Harpoons. China has repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan should the island declare formal independence, prompting Taiwan to seek more advanced weaponry to defend itself. The United States has been the leading arms supplier to Taiwan despite Washington's switching of diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. Relations between China and Taiwan, which split in 1949 at the end of a civil war, have worsened since independence-leaning Chen Shui-bian was elected president in 2000. He was re-elected last year.