New stealth corvette joins Taiwan Navy

Taiwan's defence minister yesterday announced that the R.O.C. Navy has entered a new page in self-defence capability as it welcomes the nation's first locally built stealth missile corvette, the Tuo Chiang, yesterday.

Speaking during a handover ceremony at a business harbour at northeastern Yilan County, Yen praised the new 500-ton Tuo Chiang twin-hull corvette as the "fastest and most powerful warship in Asia."

"The design and the construction of the vessel are all made by Taiwanese, which could serve as a perfect model for the nation's domestic defence industry," he said.

The minister added that the corvette will become the backbone for the R.O.C. Navy in years to come as the armed forces continue to beef up its defence capability to safeguard national security.

The missile corvette, designed and built by Taiwan's Lung Teh Shipbuilding Co., was christened this March.

Following the ceremony, the warship was sailed to a nearby military harbour and an R.O.C. Naval flag was raised to mark the official transfer, the Navy said.

The locally made vessel is expected to boost the Navy's capability to counter larger enemy warships and boost the defence competitiveness of the armed forces.

Following the transfer, the Navy will begin the training of Navy crews on the ship to be familiar with the vessel. It could take some time before the Tou Chiang is commissioned and begins active service some time next year, the Navy said.

The twin-hull corvette has a maximum speed of 38 knots (70 kph) and a range of 2,000 nautical miles (3,704 km). The ship, 60.4 meters in length and 14 meters wide, carries a crew of 41.

The Tuo Chiang is the first of possibly eight to 12 vessels to be built locally under the Hsun Hai programme.

Powerful Missile Systems

Speaking to media during the ceremony, the first captain of the Tuo Chiang, Lieutenant Commander Wang Te-jean, praised the mobility and power of the vessel.

The vessel will be equipped with eight locally developed Hsiung Feng II and another eight Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missiles, he said.

With a range of about 150 kilometers, the supersonic Hsiung Feng III is described as an "aircraft carrier killer."

Taiwan's Navy has previously released a film that recorded a recent successful sea trial of the Tuo Chiang last month.

In the film, the corvette demonstrated its manoeuvring capabilities in the open sea.

As shown in the film, in only takes a few seconds for the ship to come to a full stop before turning in the opposite direction, and the ship can reach its top speed within seconds, the Navy said.