Taiwan plans to more than double its yearly missile production capacity to close to 500 in 2022, the democratic island’s Defense Ministry reported, as it boosts its combat power amid what it sees as the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) growing military threat.
Taiwan in 2021 approved extra military spending of U.S. $8.6 billion over the next five years as tensions with the CCP, which claims the island as its territory, have hit a new high and Chinese military planes have repeatedly flown through Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.
In a report sent for review by lawmakers in early March 2022, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said the extra spending included plans to boost annual missile production capacity to 497 from 207.
Among the weapons are Taiwan’s domestically produced Wan Chien air-to-ground missiles, as well as the upgraded version of the Hsiung Feng IIE missile, and the longer-range Hsiung Sheng land-attack missile, which military experts say can hit targets farther inland in China. (Pictured: A Taiwan naval officer stands guard in front of a Hsiung Feng missile launcher during a drill in January 2022.)
The Defense Ministry was also planning to manufacture unspecified “attack drones,” with an annual target of 48 such unmanned aircraft.
The military-owned National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology aims to build 34 facilities to manufacture missiles by the end of June 2022, a move that would help meet “production peak” starting in 2023, the report said.
About 64% of the extra military spending, which came on top of planned spending of U.S. $16.7 billion for 2022, will go toward anti-ship weapons such as land-based missile systems, including a U.S. $5.3 billion plan to mass produce missiles and “high-performance” ships.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has made modernizing the military a top priority, pushing for projects including a new class of stealth warship and domestically developed submarines.
Tsai has championed “asymmetric warfare” through developing high-tech, mobile weapons that are hard to destroy by an enemy and can deliver precision attacks.
She told a visiting United States delegation in March 2022 that the CCP’s military threat is growing and vowed to defend the island’s freedom and democracy.
Taiwan believes the CCP has thousands of missiles aimed at the island, and Chinese forces dwarf those of Taiwan. China also has nuclear weapons, which Taiwan does not.
The CCP has never ruled out the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.
IMAGE CREDIT: REUTERS