Taiwan Navy's 'Carrier Killer' Seeks to Address China Military Imbalance

The president of Taiwan praised her country's defense development capacity on Thursday as she commissioned the first of a new batch of domestically manufactured warships, built to address the growing military imbalance across the Taiwan Strait.

The Tuo Chiang-class corvette ROCS Ta Chiang entered service at a commissioning ceremony attended by Tsai Ing-wen and other military officials at the Su'ao naval base in Taiwan's eastern Yilan County. It followed the completion of sea trials that began last December.

The agile, catamaran-style warship with a maximum displacement of 685 tons was made by Taiwanese company Lungteh Shipbuilding. The vessel's armaments were developed and fitted by state defense researcher National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST).

The event also saw the delivery of the Republic of China Navy's second rapid minelayer, also built by Lungteh. Taiwan's Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng and Chief of Naval Staff Liu Chih-pin were among those in attendance.

Tsai said Taiwan's new warship will strengthen the navy's ability to safeguard its maritime territories. She attended ROCS Ta Chiang's naming and ship launching ceremony nine months ago.

Taiwan President Commissions 'Carrier Killer' Warship
The Tuo Chiang-class corvette ROCS Ta Chiang, the Republic of China Navy's latest domestically manufactured warship, at a commissioning ceremony on September 9, 2021, at Su'ao naval base in Yilan, Taiwan. Taiwan Presidential Office

"This is an achievement worthy of recognition," Tsai said, adding that Taiwan had demonstrated its capacity for "defense autonomy"—a concept that sees the island build up its own defensive capabilities to complement arms purchases from the United States.

President Tsai said the new warship overcame "smears and doubts" to win "international recognition." Experts have described the vessel as the first of Taiwan's new generation of self-defense hardware.

The construction of the Tuo Chiang-class corvettes is part of Taiwan's overall defense strategy to increase its asymmetric warfare capabilities against the quantitative advantages of China's People's Liberation Army. This involves manufacturing—and purchasing from abroad—precise and highly maneuverable weaponry that will be able to effectively defend the democratic island against an attempted invasion.

ROCS Ta Chiang is the first warship in the Taiwanese navy to carry ship-launched variants of NCSIST's Sea Sword II anti-air missile. It is armed with subsonic and supersonic anti-aircraft and anti-surface weapons, including torpedos as well as Hsiung Feng II and Hsiung Feng III missiles.

The warship class—equipped with stealth technology and a lower profile for a reduced radar signature—has been nicknamed Taiwan's "aircraft carrier killer," a title that has been scoffed at by China's state-owned media publications.

Lungteh was contracted for a total of 11 Tuo Chiang-class corvettes, six of which are to be delivered by 2023. The shipbuilder is also making two additional fast minelaying vessels.

Taiwan President Commissions 'Carrier Killer' Warship
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (C) inspects the Tuo Chiang-class corvette ROCS Ta Chiang, the Republic of China Navy's latest domestically manufactured warship, during a commissioning ceremony on September 9, 2021, at Su'ao naval base in Yilan, Taiwan. Taiwan Presidential Office