Han Kuang live-fire drills to include Hsiung Feng III missiles: Navy
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, March 11 (CNA) This year's Han Kuang military exercises will include the live firing of the surface-to-air Standard Missile II and the locally developed anti-ship Hsiung Feng III missile, a senior naval officer said Monday.
Vice Admiral Hsu Pei-shan, chief of staff at Navy Command Headquarters, confirmed the inclusion of the two types of missiles in the annual war games at a hearing of the Legislative Yuan's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.
The supersonic Hsiung Feng III missile was built by the military-run Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology after nearly two decades of research and development.
Speaking on the same occasion, Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu said the Ministry of National Defense will unveil a full-fledged plan for the upcoming Han Kuang drills next week at the earliest.
Ruling Kuomintang Legislator Lin Yu-fang questioned Kao at the hearing on why a planned live-fire drill in the outlying Penghu County as part of the Han Kuang exercises was canceled early this month.
The ministry said the drill, which had been announced on Jan. 31, was scrapped because the previous announcement had been premature.
Lin wondered, however, whether the decision was really related to the opening of the annual session of China's National People's Congress early this month or the rising tensions in the Korean Peninsula.
Kao responded that it had nothing to do with external factors, explaining that the announcement was simply poorly worded.
"As the Han Kuang live-fire drills will be held at various locations, not just in Penghu, the announcement should have covered all of them rather than referring only to the Penghu drill," Kao said.
As to whether the Air Force will fire air-to-air mid-range AIM-120 missiles in the Han Kuang exercises, Kao did not respond.
Responding to Lin's question about the ministry's plan to procure two Perry-class frigates that will soon be retired from the United States Navy, Kao said there has been no change in the procurement plan to be carried out between 2014 and 2015.
"It's a deal that we should not miss," Kao said, adding that Taiwan badly needs new warships to replace its aging Knox-class frigates.
Moreover, the minister said, the U.S. has agreed to a "hot ship" transfer in the proposed Perry-class frigates deal.
Taiwan bought eight Knox-class frigates from the U.S. in the 1990s, which were later renamed as the Chiyang-class frigates.
Kao said two of them will be replaced by the Perry-class frigates to be delivered as soon as they retire from the U.S. Navy.
"And we hope the remaining six Chiyang-class frigates will be replaced by locally built warships in the future," Kao said.
Previous reports said the two Perry-class frigates to be bought from the U.S. will cost over NT$7 billion (US$236.49 million).
Kao said at a legislative session last November that the new warships will come with key onboard equipment such as the SQR-19 Towed Array Sonar system, which allows long-range passive detection of enemy submarines.
(By Rogge Chen and Sofia Wu)
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