The Republic of China (Taiwanese) Air Force will soon be equipped with smart munitions and potentially be using them to defend itself against China, according to local media reports.
Should China strike its transport infrastructure, Taiwan's 'Wan Chien' (Ten Thousand Swords) weapons will be ready to retaliate, it's claimed. The US - previously a major source of arms imports - wouldn't make its smart bombs available to Taiwan, hence the initiation and development of the country's own guided weapons programme.
The Taiwanese media reports that 60 Republic of China Air Force combat aircraft will be carrying Wan Chien weapons by January 2013, although no official word has yet emerged from the nation's defence ministry.
Wan Chien Cluster Bomb
The Wan Chien cluster bomb shares some elements in common with the AGM-154 JSOW (Joint Stand-Off Weapon). Aircraft-launched, it has a range of up to 250 kilometres, a length of around 4.5 metres and boasts a 350 kilogram warhead.
It is likely that the Wan Chien bombs will equip the Republic of China Air Force's AIDC F-CK-1 Ching-kuo combat aircraft. This indigenous multirole-capable air superiority fighter first flew in 1989 and entered service five years later. 130 examples of it were built, primarily for the Republic of China Air Force.
Taiwanese Bombs Into Service
When the Taiwanese bombs go into service, these fighters will be able to strike mainland China without having to actually overfly Chinese territory, according to military analysts.
Despite past relationship strains, Taiwan and China have actually been getting on better in recent years. Even so, China still seeks ownership of Taiwan and has not ruled out obtaining it through forceful means, if necessary. Indeed, Taiwanese military experts believe China has some 1,600 missiles permanently pointed Taiwan's way.
The Republic of China Air Force is tasked with defending Taiwan's airspace. Active since 1920, the air arm is equipped with a multitude of aircraft types including F-16 Fighting Falcon and Mirage 2000 fighters and C-130 Hercules transporters. The Wan Chien guided cluster bombs join a weapons inventory that already includes AIM-120 AMRAAMs, AIM-9 Sidewinders and AGM-65 Mavericks