Taiwan launches its largest ever missile ship as the island strives to modernise its armed forces in response to a perceived threat from China.
The 500-tonne corvette named ‘Tuo Chiang’ – ‘Tuo River’ – is the first of its kind ever produced by Taiwan and was touted by defence minister Yen Ming as ‘the fastest and most powerful’ in Asia.
Armed with 16 missiles including eight supersonic Hsiung-feng III (Brave Wind) anti-ship missiles, it will boost Taiwan’s defence capabilities against its giant neighbour, which considers the island part of China’s territory awaiting to be reunited by force if necessary.
The sleek twin-hulled ship uses stealth technology to reduce the reflection of radar waves, making it harder to detect, with a maximum speed of 38 knots per hour and a range of 2,000 nautical miles (3,704 kilometres).
It set sail briefly on Tuesday to show its capabilities to reporters before returning to the port again.
The corvette is scheduled to be deployed in Taiwan waters after further tests and is the prototype of up to 11 others to be built by the navy.
Its launch comes after the US Congress passed a bill last week authorising President Barack Obama to transfer up to four Perry-class guided missile frigates to Taipei.