Taiwan Air Force to get more advanced Wan Chien air-to-ground missiles

The Taiwan Air Force is allocating an additional NT$501.74 million (US$15.73 million) to extend the procurement of Wan Chien air-to-ground cruise missiles until 2028, according to Taiwan's National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) on September 2. The new order suggests that Taiwan is not only extending the life of its indigenous missile program but also potentially enhancing its capabilities.

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Taiwans Air Force allocates additional budget for more advanced Wan Chien air to ground missiles 925  F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo armed with Wan Chien air-to-ground missiles (Picture source: Wikimedia)

The Wan Chien missile, developed by Taiwan's National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), was initially slated for production to wind down by 2024. However, the new budget allocation extends this timeline by four years. The missile program, which began around 2000, was designed for suppression attacks on enemy airfields, ports, missile sites, and radar positions. It was declared fully operational in August 2018 and has been likened to the U.S. AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon and the MBDA-developed Storm Shadow.

The Wan Chien missile measures 3.5 meters in length, has a diameter of 0.63 meters, and has a launch weight of approximately 650 kg. It features a maximum range of 240 km, which could be extended to 400 km in the new version. The missile is guided by INS/GPS and may have a terminal seeker. Its payload is approximately 350 kg and can be equipped with various types of warheads, including high explosive, semi-armor piercing, or submunitions containing as many as 100 bomblets.

The missile is designed to be carried two at a time by Taiwan's Indigenous Defense Fighters (IDFs) and is aimed at enemy airports or locations with high concentrations of enemy forces. With its extended range, the Wan Chien missile could be launched from outside most Chinese air-defense systems along the southeastern coast, providing Taiwan with a significant strategic advantage.

The new contract could result in the production of up to 200 additional missiles, given NCSIST's annual production capacity of 50 Wan Chien missiles. This aligns with Taiwan's broader defense strategy, which focuses on strengthening its indigenous military technology amid increasing geopolitical tensions with China.