Taiwan weapons firm test-fires cruise missile ‘capable of striking’ central and eastern China

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Taiwan weapons firm test-fires cruise missile ‘capable of striking’ central and eastern China

Taiwan’s top weapons builder has test-fired a missile believed to be capable of hitting mainland China, as cross-strait tensions show no sign of abating, says South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong based daily from the Alibaba stable

The government-funded National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) test-fired the missile from its base in Jiupeng in the island’s southernmost county of Pingtung around 9.10am on Tuesday, the report added quoting the notice issued by Taiwan’s Fisheries Agency to warn off air and sea activities near the test site.

Witnesses told local media the missile, believed to be the new Hsiung Sheng cruise missile, left a trail of smoke in the clear sky after it was successfully launched.

The missile builder also said it is working with local civilian companies to develop five types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to build up a drone fleet and boost the military’s surveillance ability.

The surface-to-surface missile is an extended-range version of the Hsiung Feng IIE, which is able to hit targets up to 1,200km (746 miles) – far enough to reach major mainland cities such as Qingdao on the east coast or Wuhan in the centure.

The NCSIST declined to identify the missile but local newspapers, including the Liberty Times, quoted a military observer who said that from the altitude and test site coordinates provided by the agency, it was most likely the newly developed Hsiung Sheng.

The missile was tested in sky past Green Island to Orchid Island, and northeast to Yilan County, covering 300km north to south and 180km from east to west, at a height of up to 30km, according to the agency.

There would be four more tests this month, the agency said, SCMP despatch said.

It was the NCSIST’s first missile test this year. Six tests planned for late last year were cancelled either because of unstable weather or because the PLA was holding military drills close to Taiwan, NCSIST officials said.

The PLA has intensified its military operations to ramp up pressure on Taiwan after holding unprecedented live-fire drills surrounding the island in early August in retaliation for a Taipei visit by then-US House speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The rising tension in the Taiwan Strait has prompted warnings by some US military officials, including Air Force General Mike Minihan, that the PLA might attack Taiwan either in 2025 or 2027, although the Pentagon has said a cross-strait war is not imminent.  (SAT)