Taiwan launches improved ‘carrier killer’ corvette, commissions new minelayer

The Republic of China Navy (RoCN) has launched a new guided missile corvette and commissioned a new minelaying vessel at a ceremony presided by President Tsai Ing-wen in the eastern township of Su’ao on 15 December.

The new ship, named Ta Chiang (619), is the first mass production example of the type being built under a second tranche contract for three corvettes and is believed to displace around 685 tonnes, approximately 4-6% more than the first-of-class vessel Tuo Chiang (618).

Up to 11 guided missile corvettes are potentially being acquired under the Ministry of National Defense’s (MND’s) US$890 million Hsun Hai (Swift Sea) programme in three progressively improved flights of 3+3+4 hulls, with Tuo Chiang being used as a test and evaluation platform to enhance development for the follow-on vessels in the class.

The ship’s principal offensive capabilities come from its array of 16 anti-ship missiles raised launchers amidships. These can include the turbofan-powered Hsiung Feng (Brave Wind) II and the ramjet-powered Hsiung Feng III ‘carrier killer’ missiles.

Besides its anti-ship missiles, the Tuo Chiang-class is armed with a 76 mm Oto Melara main gun, a pair of triple torpedo launchers, and a stern-mounted Raytheon Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS). However, the improved flight vessels will also include an updated weapons suite including a pair of XTR-102 twin-barrelled automated mounts with 20 mm T-75 cannons on the foredeck as well as the navalised version of Tien Chien (Sky Sword) II surface-to-air missiles.

At the same ceremony, the RoCN also commissioned its first indigenously developed fast minelaying boat developed under the MND’s Project Perpetual/Forever Victory, a US$24.5 million programme which aims to build four next-generation fast minelayers to enhance Taiwan’s ability to counter amphibious landing operations on its soil by denying possible approaches to enemy assets.

The lead boat, designated FMLB-1 is 41 metres long, 8.8 metres wide, 3.2 metres tall above the waterline, and will displace approximately 347 tonnes at full load. It features an automatic minelaying system which will carry close to 100 sea mines and armed with T74 general purpose machine guns and T75 light machine guns for self-defence.

by Jr Ng