In a boost to Taiwan’s military capabilities, the island nation is set to receive all of its purchased Harpoon missiles before 2029.
An unnamed military source familiar with the matter revealed this information to a local Taiwanese media outlet, highlighting the USA’s commitment to strengthen Taiwan’s defensive capabilities amid increasing regional security challenges.
The Harpoon missiles will become a vital part of Taiwan’s military arsenal. The timely arrival of these missiles is expected to further bolster the country’s defensive posture against potential threats from China.
According to a report from Liberty Times Net, Taiwan has been working closely with the United States since last year to accelerate the delivery of Harpoon missiles.
Officials from Taiwan have been in talks with their US counterparts to expedite the timeline of arms shipments, to receive more than half of the missiles within the next three years and the remaining missiles by the end of 2029.
The report also highlights the close coordination between the US and Taiwan, as the two countries work together to ensure Taiwan’s security in a volatile geopolitical environment.
As per the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the United States had approved the sale of 100 sets of shore-mounted Harpoon missile systems to Taiwan.
This sale included 400 RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II missiles, 4 RTM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II maneuver missiles, 100 Harpoon Coastal Defense System Launcher Transporter Units, 25 radar trucks, and other related equipment and logistical support.
Given the development of China’s navy, air force, and rocket force, the military source underscored the gravity of the security situation in Taiwan.
Taiwan needs to acquire more anti-ship missiles in a shorter period to counter the growing military threat.
The source also expressed hope that the US could transfer Harpoon missiles originally designated for Saudi Arabia to Taiwan. Saudi Arabia purchased Harpoon missiles before Taiwan. Thus, it is first in line for delivery, the report said.
While the latest report states that delivery will be complete by 2029, many are concerned that the People’s Republic of China might attack Taiwan before its delivery.
Role Of Harpoon Missile In Taiwan’s Defense
The Harpoon is an over-the-horizon, all-weather anti-ship missile that Boeing designed and produced.
According to Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, the acquisition strategy is centered around a computer simulation study demonstrating that more anti-ship missiles are required to take out 50 percent of the adversary’s naval targets.
Designed to target enemy coastal defenses, surface-to-air missile launch sites, ports, and moored ships, the Harpoon Coastal Defense System (HCDS) is a land-based variant of the Boeing Harpoon missile Block II anti-ship and land-attack missile.
With a warhead that weighs around 500 pounds, harpoons can strike stationary targets on the ground and moving targets at sea from a distance of at least 124 kilometers (77 miles), which would cover much of the Taiwan Strait.
That is a crucial capability for Taiwan, particularly in light of Beijing’s expanding naval resources.
According to the Pentagon’s China military power report, China currently has the world’s largest navy with around 340 ships and submarines.
Beijing is also expanding its shipbuilding capacity and capability for all classes of naval vessels, including submarines, warships, and auxiliary and amphibious ships.
The report highlights that Beijing is putting considerable effort into training its maritime forces to utilize its capabilities effectively. To achieve this, it focuses significantly on scenarios related to capturing islands.
The report further notes that in 2021, the People’s Liberation Army conducted over 20 naval exercises that involved island-capture elements. This number is substantially higher than the 13 such exercises undertaken in 2020.
According to experts, the Harpoon’s effectiveness and ability to endure are ensured by various factors such as its warhead design, active radar guidance, terminal mode sea-skimming, or pop-up maneuvers.
The Harpoon Block II missile, introduced in 2011, can effectively engage sea and land-based targets. It is ideal for attacking coastal defense sites, surface-to-air missile sites, aircraft that are exposed, as well as ships that are docked in ports.
With its autonomous, all-weather, over-the-horizon capability, the Harpoon Block II will provide crucial defensive capability against the Chinese forces.
Besides this, the Harpoon Block II+ has been developed to enhance the US Navy’s capabilities by incorporating a GPS guidance kit and improved weapon reliability and survivability.
It also features a new data link interface allowing in-flight updates, increased target selectivity, an abort option, and better resistance to electronic countermeasures. This missile can be launched from various air and surface platforms, making it a powerful option for Taiwan’s defense needs.