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Taiwan interested in Harpoon missiles to scare Chinese Navy away

Cruise missiles could destroy at least 70% of approaching Chinese warships

A Harpoon RGM-84A missile fired during exercises near Puerto Rico 

A Harpoon RGM-84A missile fired during exercises near Puerto Rico  (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is expediting moves to purchase Harpoon missiles from the United States, which would raise the possibility of hitting Chinese Navy vessels to 70 percent, UDN reported Thursday (Aug. 27).

The Harpoon is an over-the-horizon anti-ship missile that flies low over the surface of the sea to evade radar detection. There are versions that can be launched from land, sea, air, or as torpedoes targeting submarines.

The aim is to strengthen Taiwan’s coastal defenses to scare away the enemy from the country, with the Harpoons supposedly able to destroy up to at least 70 percent of approaching vessels, according to defense sources.

UDN reported that the military raised its budget to purchase the missiles to NT$80 billion (US$2.72 billion) from NT$50 billion, though the high cost also provoked criticism of Taiwan as being too willing to give in to pressure from Washington to procure expensive defense items.

However, the local production of Hsiung Feng missiles has been unable to keep up with demand from the military, making the purchase of coastal defense cruise missiles (CDCM) from the U.S. a necessity. The Harpoons also possess characteristics not present in the Taiwanese missiles, such as the capability to attack harbor installations and ships docked inside ports, according to the UDN report.