The Republic of China Navy has received its first consignment of Harpoon anti-ship missiles from the United States.
Placed in 2008, the Taiwanese Harpoon missile order comprises 32 UGM-84L Harpoon Block IIs and pairs of UTM-84L training missiles and weapon control systems.
According to Taiwanese officials, the submarine-launched Harpoons will reinforce the Republic of China Navy's attack capability, supplementing the Harpoon missile variants already carried by its frigates and the Republic of China Air Force's F-16 A/B Block 20 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft.
Taiwanese Harpoon Missiles
When first placed, the Taiwanese Harpoon missile order irked China, which strongly protested. More recently, Taiwanese-Chinese relations have improved significantly but still hanging over Taiwan is the prospect of an invasion. It's for that reason that Taiwan is steadily acquiring new or upgraded military technologies.
"The [Harpoon] missiles will be able to extend the range of the...submarines' striking capabilities, enabling them to launch a pre-emptive attack when necessary", explained Andrew Hsia - deputy defence minister - in comments quoted by Taiwan's Central News Agency.
Each submarine-launched Harpoon has a 150 nautical mile range, greatly extending the reach of the Republic of China Navy's current in-service torpedoes. All-weather capable, the Block II missiles have an over-the-horizon capability and, fitted with a 500 pound blast warhead, are designed to strike a variety of targets.
The UGM-84L missiles will equip the Navy's two Chien Lung-class submarines. Constructed in The Netherlands, these are modified variants of the Zwaardvis-class submarines, themselves based on an earlier US-designed submarine. Named Hai Lung and Hai Hu, the two submarines entered service in 1987 and 1988, respectively, and each has now been modernised in order to carry the Harpoons.
With the first batch of Harpoons delivered, the remainder are scheduled to arrive in Taiwan before the end of 2016.