TAIPEI: Taiwan is expected to mass produce a potent new missile system designed to nip a Chinese invasion in the bud by striking airfields and harbours on the mainland, a lawmaker said Tuesday.
The defence ministry has moved up production for the “Wan Chien” missile to as early as 2014 from 2018 to equip locally-developed fighter jets with the new system, said lawmaker Lin Yu-fang, who is also military pundit.
The missile will allow the fighter jets to aim at Chinese targets from a distance and reduce the risks of having to send Taiwanese jets over mainland territory, Lin said.
Also known as “Ten Thousand Swords”, the missile is designed to target harbours, missile and radar bases, as well as troop build-up areas prior to an invasion of the island, he said.
Each missile carries more than 100 warheads capable of blowing dozens of small craters in airport runways, making them impossible to use.
Taiwanese experts estimate the People's Liberation Army currently has more than 1,600 missiles aimed at the island.
Ties between Taiwan and its giant neighbour have improved significantly since the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang government took power in Taipei in 2008.
But China still considers the island part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary, prompting Taipei to seek more advanced defence weaponry mainly from the United States.
Washington in January 2010 unveiled a weapons package for Taiwan that included Patriot missiles, Black Hawk helicopters, and equipment for Taiwan's F-16 fighter jets, but no submarines or new fighter aircraft.
A defence spokesman was not immediately available for comment.