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Taiwan Navy begins research into fleet of 60 'stealth mini-missile boats'

Taiwan Navy beginning research into feasibility of fleet of 'stealth mini-missile boats' that could counter China's growing naval threat

Mark VI patrol boat.

Mark VI patrol boat. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- In a new effort to use asymmetric warfare to counter an invasion by China, Taiwan is going ahead with research into the feasibility of building a large fleet of small warships armed to the teeth with missiles, reported CNA.

On Jan. 08, Chief of the General Staff Lee Hsi-ming (李喜明) confirmed that the Navy will begin research into the construction of 60 "Stealth Mini-Missile Assault Boats" weighing 45 tons each, with the goal of having the fleet completed within four years.

Navy officials said that the development of the vessels would be carried out by the National Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology in coordination with domestic shipyards. If approved by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), the Navy will commission private contractors to build the warships over the course of four years, and would represent the first major defense contract signed since she took office in 2016.

In response to the Chinese Navy's strategy of building new large surface warships, including aircraft carriers, Lee has proposed countering this with a large number of much smaller, nimbler cutters crewed by only two or three marines who could fire surface-to-air missiles.

According to a press release issued by the Ministry of Defense (MND), given the growing strength of the enemy and based on the operational concept of "winning the battle at sea and defeating the enemy on the beaches," the department has put forth this guidance to the Navy to research the construction of an asymmetric force that can effective meet these challenges based on the resources at hand.

The MND said that once research has been completed and approval is granted by authorities, a plan will be put forward on the construction of the crafts.