China has test-fired a cruise missile that is reported to be capable of precision strikes on Taiwan and beyond. The defense journal Jane’s Missiles and Rockets says the Donghai-10 or East China Sea 10 missile has a range of 1,500 kilometers, can carry 500 kilogram warheads and is likely to be accurate to within 10 meters.
The publication says another cruise missile (the Yingji-63 or Strike Eagle-63) is expected to enter service in the next few years.
The new weapons pose an additional threat to Taiwan, whose defenses are geared against China’s ballistic missiles.
Taiwan has deployed three Patriot (PAC-2) anti-missile systems and is planning to acquire six more improved (PAC-3) systems.
China has tested a new cruise missile capable of precision strikes on Taiwan and beyond, defence journal Jane’s Missiles and Rockets said. The missiles, designated the Donghai-10, or East China Sea-10, have a range of 1 500km, can carry 500kg warheads and should be accurate to within 10m, says the article to be published on October 1.
“This is a major new threat, not only to Taiwan but to other countries in Asia,” author Wendell Minnick told Reuters by telephone from Taipei today. China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, which split with the mainland at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949, and has threatened to attack if the self-governing island drags its feet on reunification. China’s new additions to its arsenal of the Donghai-10, another cruise missile still under development and missile-carrying Harpy unmanned aerial vehicles bought from Israel constituted a serious challenge to Taiwan’s defences, Minnick said. “All them can go below the radar, that’s the major problem,” he said.
“They can bring these Harpies in very low and very slow, and they can be largely ignored by the radar because they don’t seem to be a threat until they’re right on top of you.” The other cruise missile, called the Yingji-63, or Strike Eagle-63, expected to enter service in the “next few years”, would likely have a range of 400 to 500 km and be able to carry a 500kg warhead with similar accuracy to the Donghai-10, the article says.
Minnick said the cruise missiles could be dropped from bomber aircraft, further extending their range. “(The Chinese) are just advancing their capabilities … and very aggressively. This is something that worries the US defence department. They don’t just see a threat to Taiwan, they see a threat to Japan and the Philippines.” The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979, but remains the island’s main arms supplier and most important friend.
Chinese media reported the testing of a new guided missile in mid-August during a period of rising tensions with Taiwan, but did not give details. In June, Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian’s cabinet endorsed an $18.2 billion special budget including $4.3 billion for Patriot Advanced-Capability 3 missile defences made by US-based Lockheed Martin Corp. . Two months later, a Taiwan newspaper said the United States planned to sell four Aegis missile-defence warships to the island.
Minnick said Taiwan was not properly equipped to counter the cruise-missile threat because its defences were geared against tactical ballistic missiles, which could be shot down with Patriot missiles. “They go with the cruise missiles and it’s going to be much harder to knock these things out of the air,” he said.