Taiwan launches “aircraft carrier killer” Tuo Chiang-class corvette

TAIPEI (GDC) — Taiwan’s latest Tuo Chiang-class corvette, the Ta Chiang (PGG-619), is scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in July, and a commissioning ceremony for the ship will be held in August, a military source said Wednesday.

The warship, designed and built in Taiwan for the Navy, was first commissioned in 2015, a year after the prototype was named Tuo Chiang (PGG-618).

Unlike the prototype, the upgraded Tuo Chiang-class corvette, the Ta Chiang, is an anti-ship version fitted with subsonic Hsiung Feng-II missiles, supersonic Hisung Feng-III anti-ship missiles, a 76 mm cannon, and Tien-Chien II air defense missiles.

Military officials on July 20 said that the Navy’s handover ceremony for the Ta Chiang will take place at Suao Port on July 27, reported Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CAN).

Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR) analyst Shu Hsiao-huang has described Taiwan’s new Tuo Chiang-class corvette as “mobile, stealthy, fast, and powerful.”

The military analyst noted that the latest Tuo Chiang-class corvette, the Ta Chiang, is armed with Sea Sword II medium-range missiles, which greatly boost its air defense capabilities and survivability. He added that the Ta Chiang’s small hull and stealth technology give it a low radar cross-section, making it difficult for Chinese anti-ship missiles to detect it as a target, Taiwanese CNA reported.

Huang said the ship can therefore perform grey zone patrols during peacetime without difficulty. However, considering China’s advanced electronic warfare capabilities, he said the Navy should be cautious about how it deploys the corvette during wartime.

The Tuo-Chiang-class has also been modified for maritime patrol missions under the Taiwan Coast Guard. Known as the Anping-class patrol vessel, the first ship was launched in December of last year. The Coast Guard has said these ships can be fitted with missile launchers during wartime.

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Huang said that if more Tuo Chiang and Anping-class ships are built in the future, the Coast Guard and Navy can pool the vessels together during a conflict to increase the effectiveness of maritime assault operations.

Late last year, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said it planned to have three Tuo Chiang-class corvettes delivered by 2025 to counter China’s increasing military threats, which include frequent aerial incursions into Taiwan’s southwest air defense identification zone (ADIZ) and an increasing number of military drills near Taiwan.

However, the ministry later revised its plans, saying it hoped to have six Tuo Chiang-class vessels built by 2023. Delivery of the Ta Chiang was moved up from later this year to July, after it passed warfare tests.

The Navy is hoping to obtain another five Tuo Chiang-class corvettes before 2023, after negotiating with Lung Teh Shipbuilding Co. in Yilan, a military source said.

According to the Navy, the new Tuo Chiang-class ship has a maximum speed of 30 knots, displacement of 685 tonnes and an operational range of 1,800 nautical miles.

The ship’s name, Ta Chiang, is derived from the Tawa River in Taitung County, which runs through the ancestral hunting grounds of the Paiwan indigenous people, and it also alludes to the vessel’s symbolic role as a “tower” on the frontlines of Taiwan’s defense, the Navy said.

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