A Ching-kuo fighter jet armed with Wan Chien cruise missiles. Photo: Handout
A Ching-kuo fighter jet armed with Wan Chien cruise missiles. Photo: Handout

Taiwan’s defense ministry said its indigenous Wan Chien air to ground cruise missile – a cluster munition – was fully operational after a classified live-fire test aimed at targets at sea.

The submunitions-bearing missile utilizes GPS and an inertial navigation system to achieve an effective range in excess of 200 kilometers, bringing civil and military airports along the coastal Fujian, Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces of China within its range if fired from optimal locations on and off Taiwan.

The Taiwan Strait is about 130 kilometers wide at its narrowest.

The new missile will give the air force the ability to strike at the Chinese Air Force’s coastal strongholds as well as amphibious ship groups, according to the island’s semi-official Central News Agency.

All of the island’s fighter jets, particularly the homemade Ching-kuo aircraft, have been upgraded to carry the new missiles to fire from the east of the central line in the Taiwan Strait to attack Chinese air bases, assembly areas, loading zones and military positions to neutralize any threats.

The missile partly resembles the United States’ AGM-154 precision guided weapon and Europe’s low-observable, air-launched cruise missile Storm Shadow, and serial production started in 2015.

This year it has undergone more rigorous tactical trials to ascertain its reliability and effectiveness in destroying airbases and other installations.

In one test firing, missiles were launched from fighter jets at surface targets in the Taiwan Strait, while being monitored by the another fighter and a drone, which transmitted real-time data and footage to a Taiwanese army command center. Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen was reported to have watched some of the test firings.

Computer simulations in previous anti-China invasion Han Kuang exercises indicated that Wan Chien missiles were crucial in fending off  sorties and decapitation strikes mounted by the Chinese Air Force.

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