Taiwan News, Taiwan's Navy will hold a new round of military exercises today in southern Taiwan, hoping to atone for a widely-criticized performance in last month's Han Kuang 19 exercises.
Today's drills – dubbed Lien Hsing 90 – will concentrate on testing the SUT torpedo that malfunctioned at the Han Kuang exercises in Ilan County. The drills will be performed at Chia Lu Tang beach in Pingtung County under the supervision of the fleet commander, Vice Admiral Shen Po-chih, and the vice fleet commander, Rear Admiral Gong Chia-cheng.
Military spokesman, Major General Huang Suey-sheng, said the navy and marines were looking to redeem themselves after the torpedo malfunctioned and a sidewinder missile exploded without hitting its target at last month's Ilan exercises.
“Defense Minister Tang Yau-ming ordered related units to improve. Therefore, the 'Lien Hsing 90' places emphasis on exercises that focus on torpedo and missile launches,” Huang said.
At the annual Han Kuang 19 exercises held on September 4, a SUT (Surface and Underwater) torpedo was fired from the 'Hai Lung 793' (Sea Dragon) submarine but failed to hit its target on the surface and was later found on the beach.
That was the first time Taiwan's Navy used the SUT torpedo, said Wu Chi-fang, rear admiral of the Fleet Command's General Direction of Political Warfare.
“In previous military exercises, the Navy only used a training version of this type of torpedo, one that was not fully armed. It was a valuable experience for the Navy to have tested the SUT in Ilan because we now know more about its characteristics,” Wu said.
Local media heavily criticized the malfunctioning torpedo and sidewinder missile.
According to Wendell Minnick, Jane's Defense Weekly's Taipei correspondent, the torpedo in question was said to be made in Germany but in fact it was only designed by a German company, AEG, and was assembled in Indonesia.
“After the 'Hai Lung' fired the torpedo it went berserk. The submarine had to do an emergency dive in order to avoid the torpedo,” Minnick said.
Navy headquarters said at a press conference on September 4 that the wire controlling the torpedo broke, causing it to malfunction.
According to a Navy source based in Pingtung who wished to remain anonymous, the Navy received a lot of pressure before the Han Kuang 19 exercise because of the torpedo.
“That kind of torpedo has to be operated from a certain distance beneath the ocean's surface. The place that was chosen to hold the Han Kuang 19 was a shallow fishing ground, which may have contributed to the torpedo's malfunctioning,” said the source.
“After the torpedo is launched, it has to change its depth in order to hit its target,” the source added.
“If its target were a boat, it would then get closer to the surface since the boat is only submerged a few meters.”