Taiwan is scheduled to take delivery next month of a powerful multiple-launch rocket system aimed at neutralizing former rival China’s amphibious landing capabilities, local media reported Sunday.
The weapon, called Ray Ting 2000 or “Thunder 2000”, will be put into service in August, said the Taipei-based Liberty Times, as the military plans to phase out the current rocket system introduced three decades ago.
“After it is armed with the new weapons, the military will see its anti-landing capability be greatly enhanced,” said an unnamed military source quoted by the newspaper.
Taiwan defence ministry officials were unavailable for comment on the report.
The multi-barrel system, developed by military research unit Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology, can launch 40 rockets in a minute with a range of 45 kilometres (28 miles), said military experts cited by the report.
That longer range capability can neutralize amphibious craft before they reach the shore, they added.
The truck-mounted launchers can be combat ready in eight minutes, less than half the time the current system needs to position itself, the report said.
The ministry plans to produce more than 50 systems at a cost of 14.5 billion Taiwan dollars (US$483 million), local media has reported.
Ties between Beijing and Taipei have improved markedly since Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang party became president in 2008 on a platform of beefing-up trade and tourism links.
Ma was reelected in January for a second four-year term.
But China still considers the island part of its territory and has vowed to take it back even if it means war.
The island has governed itself for more than six decades since splitting from the mainland in 1949 at the end of a civil war, and has sought to modernise its forces to ward off external threats.