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Taiwan's first 'aircraft carrier killer' delivered

ROC Central News Agency

2014/03/14 21:32:54

Taipei, March 14 (CNA) Taiwan's first locally designed stealth missile corvette was christened Friday, a development that is expected to give the Navy a deterrent capability against larger enemy warships.

Navy Commander Adm. Chen Yung-kang, presided over the christening of the 502-ton Tuo Chiang (Tuo River), which was held at a shipyard of Lung Teh Shipbuilding Co., in Suao, Yilan County.

Chen said the ship, with its high mobility, strong firepower and stealth features, will enhance the nation's defense ability.

The twin-hull corvette, described as an 'aircraft carrier-killer' by local media, has a maximum speed of 38 knots and a range of 2,000 nautical miles.

The ship, measuring 60.4 meters in length and 14 meters in width, carries a crew of 41.

Its armaments include eight Hsiung Feng II and eight Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missiles, an Otobreda 76 gun, four 12.7 mm machine guns and a MK15 phalanx close-in weapon system.

Chen said the vessel still requires a lot of testing and reviews, and expressed hope that Lung Teh Shipping and the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology can work closely to enable the ship's deployment soon.

The military-run institute is responsible for the corvette's firearm integration system.

Some have compared the ship with a similar ship used in China -- the type 022 (Houbei Class) fast attack missile vessel -- but Chen said he is confident of the superiority of the corvette in terms of both design and weapons.

Lung Teh Shipbuilding, which began building the ship in November 2012, said it is the first aluminum alloy dual-hull ship to be built in Taiwan.

The use of aluminum alloy means that magnetic mines cannot be attached to the ship's hull.

The corvette is expected to be formally commissioned in the first half of 2015.

The Navy said it plans to commission between eight and 12 corvettes if they can obtain sufficient budget.

Each one costs about NT$2.2 billion (US$72.5 million).

Legislator Lin Yu-fang of the ruling Kuomintang said the Navy relies mainly on higher tonnage ships, such as its Kidd-class destroyers, but these nearly 10,000-ton ships move relatively slowly and can be an obvious target at sea.

He noted that the combat area in the Taiwan Strait is not large, and does not need high-tonnage warships, which was the idea behind developing the corvette.

The Navy's 20 Guanghua VI-class fast attack missile boats currently in service will serve during a transitional period in moving toward smaller ships.

The Guanghua VI-class boat has a displacement of 186.5 tons and a maximum draught of 3 meters, while the Tuo Chiang has a deplacement of 500 tons and a maximum draught of 2.3 meters, allowing it to move easily in small fishing harbors, a feature that Lin touted, saying that the corvette could be hidden among fishing boats.

(By Claudia Liu, Worthy Shen, Jay Chen and Lilian Wu)
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