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Kuang Hua VI Fast Attack Missile Craft

Taiwan's Kuang Hua VI [Glorious China] naval modernization program was first unveiled in 1996, but the program and design has since undergone changes. The navy hopes the new boats, together with four Kidd-class destroyers from the United States and the other vessels currently in service, including Chengkung-class frigates that are similar to the United States Perry-class ships, Kangting-class frigates (French-made Lafayette frigates), Chiyang-class frigates (Knox-class ships) and 500-ton Chinchiang-class frigates designed by the navy, will form a formidable fleet.

The Kuang Hua No. 6 is expected to replace the older seagull-class missile fast boat, which has been in use for 20 years. The navy currently maintains nearly 50 Hai Ou Seagull-class fast boats. It can only be armed with two Hsiungfeng I missiles, so the navy began to develop a new generation of fast attack boat three years ago. The Seagull-class fast boat is only 47 tons, which makes it difficult to operate efficiently in bad weather and hard to equip with instrumentation and newer weapons. The 154-ton Kuang Hua No. 6-class ship is equipped with four Hsiungfeng II missiles, as well as sophisticated monitoring, firing, radar and information systems. It can also evade radar detection because of its special design.

Initially it was projected to includes the future acquisition of 50 fast attack missile boats (150-250 ton) to replace the aging fleet of Hai Ou-class boats which have been in in service for more than 20 years. However, by 1998 it was envisioned that a total of 30 missile boats would be acquired, each of 150-tons, and capable of absorbing or deflecting radar. The project is part of the island's naval build-up beginning in the early 1990s, but long delayed by other higher-priority projects. Beginning in 1999 the navy gradually began to phase out its 50-ton missile boats. Although the Kuang Hua VI program for 30 missile boats was intended to replace the older Hai Ou class, by late 2000 only a single prototype had been authorized.

In December 2000 Taiwan's Navy announced plans to replace the Hsiung Feng-II with the Harpoon as the standard anti-ship missile on the Cheng Kung-class frigate. The decision grew from concerns for the higher cost-effectiveness of the new weapon system. Compared with the RGM -84L Harpoon missile, the Hsiung Feng-II was judged inferior in respect to range and maneuverability. The Hsiung Feng-II missiles on board the Cheng Kung-class frigates will be moved to the domestically-built Ching Chiang-class patrol boats, as well as the next-generation Kuang Hua VI missile boats in a pre-production. The Hsiung Feng-II missile had been chosen for the Cheng Kung-class frigate because the US was not willing to sell the Harpoons to Taiwan when the frigates were built.

In September 2003 the state-owned China Shipbuilding Corp. (CSBC) was soliciting the chance to build a new-generation fast attack boat -- the Kuang Hua No. 6 -- for the navy. The 154-ton Kuang Hua No. 6, designed by navy, was one of the focuses of the Han Kuang No. 19 exercise, the largest-ever wargame in recent years, held on 04 September 2003.

After completing the prototype, the Navy planned to find civilian shipbuilders to build the rest of the missile boats. The state-run China Shipbuilding Corporation and several major private shipbuilders planned to form a strategic alliance to bid for the contract to build 29 new missile boats. CSBC officials said that they were working with other ship builders to land the contract for the building project from the navy, which wants 29 more of the vessels. If the deal went through, it would be worth around NT$10 billion (US$292.39 million) and will give a much-needed shot in the arm to the cash-strapped company.

The first in the class of Kwang Hua VI missile boats, FACG-60, was commissioned on Oct. 1, 2003. Funding for additional units had not been approved. The tender was subsequently disputed by rival bidders and the Taiwanese legislative froze the budget for the construction of the class until 2007. The ROCN and CSBC subsequently agreed that construction would commence on the 30 vessels and that work would be completed by the end of 2010 [this seems overly optimistic]. It was reported on November 26, 2007 that work on the first two missile boats had begun.

As of 2007 Taiwan had 30 Kuang Hua VI FABG missile boats in the works. They were planned to be operational in 2010, although they're stalled due to some corruption probe, and the program was downsized from 50 originally. In August 2007 Taiwan's navy has placed an order with Tognum subsidiary MTU Asia for 90 Series 4000 large diesel engines. Over the course of its 4-year supply term, the contract will earn the Tognum Group around EUR 80 million. Rainer Breidenbach, Board Member at Tognum AG and Chief Executive at MTU Friedrichshafen responsible for Distribution and After Sales, confirmed that 'winning a contract in this economically vital region is a significant achievement, especially as the reliability of MTU's engines played an important role in the customer's decision'. Each of the 180-ton patrol vessels will be fitted with a propulsion system powered by MTU's 16-cylinder Series 4000 engines and monitored by MTU systems.

In September 2008 the first Kuang Hwa No. 6, with a crew of 16 aboard, hit what the Navy calls a "floating sand bar," on which a small lighthouse stands at the mouth of the fishing port of Putai, while taking part in Operation Hang Kuang No. 24. The only prototype of the Kuang Hwa VI was entrenched upon tetrapods near the local beach after Typhoon Jangmi, the Navy initially considered scuttling the ship as previous attempts to remove it failed and it was cheaper. However after several final attempts, the Navy salvage crew managed to remove the ship from the sandbar and take it to the docks for further repair. The ROCN stated that they are confident the ship will be repaired to full operational capabilities. But eventually the boat was scrapped after the grounding.

By 2010 construction was underway of another Kwang Hua 6 (KH-6), a stealthy 180ton fast-attack patrol boat armed with four Hsiung Feng IIs. A planned 29 KH-6s will replace 40 47-ton Hai Oui (Sea Gull) fast-attack missile patrol boats (a variant of the Israeli Dvora type), each of which carries a pair of Hsiung Feng Is.




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