Taiwan monitoring China's aircraft carrier development: spokesman
ROC Central News Agency
By Hsieh Chia-chen and Sofia Wu
Taipei, May 9 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Monday it has been closely monitoring China's aircraft carrier development, but it declined to comment on reports that Taiwan's first locally developed anti-ship missile was being deployed on its warships.
According to media reports, China has almost completed renovation of its first aircraft carrier -- The Varyag -- and the vessel is scheduled to set sail early next year.
The Varyag -- the Russian name of the carrier -- was purchased from Ukraine and its launch would mark China's completion of its first aircraft carrier battle group, the reports said.
Speaking at an MND news conference, military spokesman Lo Shao-ho said the ministry is well aware of China's aircraft carrier project and will continue following its development.
On the Taiwan military's reported deployment of the locally developed supersonic Hsiung Feng III ship-to-ship missile, Lo said all of the country's weaponry research, development and production programs have been proceeding smoothly as scheduled.
"However, we cannot go into detail on deployment or application of any specific weaponry system, " Lo said, adding that it has long been the MND's policy not to publicly discuss such details.
Lo also assured the public that the military was determined and confident of its ability to protect national security, peace and stability.
Quoting unidentified military sources, the Liberty Times reported Sunday that the Taiwan military had begun deploying the Hsiung Feng III missile on various warships.
The missile is capable of attacking fuel tanks and ammunition depots on ships, and can be used against China's aircraft carrier battle groups, according to the report.
Military analysts said it is difficult to counter the Hsiung Feng III missile, which has a maximum speed of mach 2.0, or twice the speed of sound, and a range of up to 130 kilometers.
The report also cited ruling Kuomintang Legislator Lin Yu-fang as saying that in the first stage of deployment, the Taiwan navy's eight Chengkung-class frigates and seven Chinchiang missile boats will be outfitted with the Hsiung Feng III missile.
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