TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Two missiles which were fired off Taiwan’s east coast might have been extended-range versions of the Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missile, reports said Wednesday (July 22).
The authorities warned beforehand that the waters and airspace from Yilan County in the northeast to Pingtung County in the south would be closed off Wednesday afternoon, the Central News Agency reported.
The National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST, 中科院), the main military-owned weapons development body, announced it would fire missiles 290 kilometers northward, from the Jiupeng base in Pingtung County into waters off Yilan County.
The projectiles could reach a maximum altitude of 15,000 feet during their voyage, officials said.
Both missiles were fired between 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m., with the second one not even subject to a height limit, according to CNA.
Speculation arose that the second missile might have been a new type not yet revealed to the outside world, but experts said it was more likely to be a new version of the Hsiung Feng III with a longer range than before. The tests were necessary before moving to full production of the projectile, the experts suggested.
Taiwan’s limited size reduces the options for full tests of new missiles, with live firings posing a potential threat to shipping in international waters. Since the trajectory also required close observation by military planes, it was more logical to close off a large area of ocean close to Taiwan to conduct the tests, commentators said.