BOOM: Why China Should Take Taiwan's New Cruise Missile Seriously

David Axe

Key point: This new, domestically-produced missile is Taiwan's attempt to close some of the military imbalance with China.

Taiwan has begun production of a new land-attack cruise missile. But the island country still is badly outgunned by China’s own, much larger missile arsenal.

Taiwanese media on Aug. 4, 2019 reported that the country’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology had cleared the Yun Feng cruise missile for mass production.

The supersonic land-attack missile has been under development since the 1990s. It can fly as far as 1,200 miles, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

That range could allow Taiwan to threaten many of the airbases, ports and other facilities from which China likely would stage any attempt to invade Taiwan.

Taipei reportedly is building an initial 20 Yun Feng missiles as well as 10 truck-based launchers. Taiwan’s Up Media described the missiles as “the top priority of the various studios of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.”

Taiwan also is developing a new air-launched cruise missile -- and reportedly has attempted to reverse-engineer old, U.S.-made J85 engines apparently to power the munition.

According to a local media report, the Taiwanese air force and the Chinese Academy of Sciences are collaborating on the reverse-engineering of the General Electric J85 engine, two of which power each of Taiwan's roughly two-dozen F-5 fighters.

The Taiwanese air force operated more than 300 F-5s before replacing most of them with American-made F-16s, French Mirage 2000s and locally-built F-CKs, leaving the country with a large stock of excess J85s.

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