By WENDELL MINNICK
Posted: Friday Jan 18, 2013
TAIPEI -- Taiwan's military is developing an offensive surface-to-surface missile with a 1,200-kilometer range that could cover China's central and southern regions, including Shanghai.
Codenamed Cloud Peak (Yunfeng), the missile is outfitted with a ramjet engine capable of speeds of Mach 3 or higher. The "high-altitude missile ... does not leave the atmosphere," a Taiwan government official said.
Future advancements of the Cloud Peak could include a range of up to 2,000 kilometers. Production for the new missile is scheduled to begin in 2014.
The government source also revealed that Taiwan has deployed the mobile Hsiung Feng 2E land-attack cruise missile (LACM) system with three squadrons on the northern part of the island. The subsonic Hsiung Feng 2E has a range of 600 kilometers, the source said.
The Hsiung Feng (Brave Wind) missile family includes the Hsiung Feng 1, 2 and 3 anti-ship missiles produced by the military-run Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST).
The government source said the Missile Command controls a special unit, 601 Group, designated for handling "offensive missile systems." Under the 601 Group, three squadrons are fielded with the Hsiung Feng 2E.
One squadron is based at the Missile Command Headquarters at Taishan in Taipei County, formerly the U.S. Army's 2nd Missile Battalion Headquarters. The missiles can be seen from Google Earth at 25°02'13.59"N by 121°25'14.90"E.
Visible at this site are four launcher vehicles, two command vehicles, five satellite relay vehicles and two missile loader vehicles. The base was formerly a MIM-14 Nike-Hercules surface-to-air missile (SAM) base, and decommissioned Nike missiles are exhibited near the front gate.
A second squadron is based at Sanxia, Taipei County, at the CSIST Systems Manufacturing Center. The exact location of these missiles is not visible on Google Earth. The front gate is located at 24°54'10.41"N by 121°21'17.18"E.
A third squadron is based at an old Nike SAM site at Yangmei, Taoyuan County, which has undergone extensive renovation over the past several years. In 2003, Google Earth images indicated the facility was abandoned and in disrepair. Images from 2010 show new buildings and the deployment of three launcher vehicles, one command vehicle, and one satellite relay vehicle. The vehicles are covered with camouflage netting. There is also a helicopter-landing pad on the base. Missiles are visible at 24°54'07.14"N by 121°07'05.27"E, according to Google Earth.
The bases are roughly 160 kilometers from the first target of opportunity: the Chinese signal intelligence facility at Dongjing Shan (Daqiu). It is located 140 kilometers from Taiwan at 25°24'55.48"N by 119°37'53.81"E. The facility has been an irritant to Taiwan's military since the early stages of the Cold War.
But former vice minister of defense for policy, Lin Chong Pin, said China has more than one way to take Taiwan.
"China these days does not rely on military instruments as such to achieve its ultimate goal of unification," he said. All that China has to do, with the opening of direct Chinese investment into Taiwan, is "to buy Taiwan." This is "cheaper than to attack Taiwan," Lin said.
When asked if Taipei was concerned the U.S. would object to the new missiles because they violate the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) -- which limits missile payloads to 500 kilograms and ranges of no more than 300 kilometers -- the government source replied, "This is a 1,000 percent violation of the MTCR, and I don't care what the [expletive] Americans think."
York Chen, a former member of Taiwan's National Security Bureau under the Chen Shui-bian administration, said he expects the U.S. to complain, as always. However, he said, "as far as I know, they will only be used after Taiwan is being attacked" by China.
The Taiwan government source said both the Hsiung Feng 2E and Cloud Peak were a response to China's efforts to modernize its short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) force. China has 1,500 Dong Feng 11/15 SRBMs aimed at the island. The source said the U.S. has done nothing to pressure China into reducing the number of these missiles, and Taipei has become leery of U.S. reassurances that it would provide protection during a war.
Chen said he agreed with this attitude.
"The U.S. should turn to watch the PLA [People's Liberation Army] missiles instead" of worrying about Taiwan's paltry number of offensive missiles, he said.