Taiwan highlights new features, further development for Tuo Jiang stealth corvette | World Defense

Taiwan highlights new features, further development for Tuo Jiang stealth corvette

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Taiwan highlights new features, further development for Tuo Jiang stealth corvette

Kelvin Wong, Taipei, Taiwan - IHS Jane's Navy International
19 August 2015

Up to 12 Tuo Jiang-class guided missile corvettes could be acquired for Taiwan's navy under the Hsun Hai (Swift Sea) programme. Source: Taiwan Ministry of National Defense

Key Points
  • Further development of Taiwan's latest stealth missile corvette, Tuo Jiang, is expected
  • These improvements are likely to be incorporated into future vessels of the class
While the Republic of China Navy (RoCN) had a relatively modest presence at the biennial Taipei Aerospace & Defense Technology Exhibition (TADTE), held from 13 to 16 August, it nevertheless took the opportunity to showcase some of its latest naval platforms in model form to visitors.

One of the highlights was a scale presentation of Tuo Jiang (pennant number 618): the service's newest surface combat asset assigned to the 131st Flotilla at Keelung. The vessel was handed over by shipbuilder Lung Teh Shipbuilding Company in December 2014 and subsequently commissioned in March 2015.

Official specifications released by the RoCN at TADTE 2015 state that the stealthy aluminium-hulled corvette - which features a wave-piercing catamaran hull form and a low radar cross-section (RCS) design - is 60.4 m long, 14 m wide, and has a draft of 2.3 m. The vessel displaces 567 tonnes at full combat load and is crewed by 41 personnel, including officers.

Propulsion is by a quad waterjet array with two waterjets fitted to each hull. While the RoCN declined to disclose their type, Sweden's MJP (Marine Jet Power) - which has worked with Lung Teh on several ship development programmes - revealed in a January 2014 announcement that the service had chosen its MJP CSU (Compact Steering Unit) 850 system, which according to MJP literature generates 7,935 bhp (5,917 kW) and is also used in the Taiwanese Coast Guard Administration's 65.1 m long, 500-tonne-class 720GT patrol ship. These waterjets enable Tuo Jiang to reach a stated maximum speed of 43 kt.

The ship's principal offensive capabilities come from its array of 16 indigenously developed anti-ship missiles housed amidships in raised launchers. These comprise the turbofan-powered Hsiung Feng (Brave Wind) II and the ramjet-powered Hsiung Feng III, the latter being dubbed the 'carrier killer' by its developer, Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST), during the 2011 iteration of TADTE. According to IHS Jane's Strategic Weapon Systems , the subsonic Hsiung Feng II is equipped with a 225 kg high-explosive (HE) semi-armour-piercing warhead and has a range of 81 n miles, while the supersonic Hsiung Feng III packs a 120 kg HE warhead and can engage targets up to 70.2 n miles away. It is known that extended-range variants of the Hsiung Feng II have been developed, but neither the RoCN nor CSIST would be drawn on whether these improved systems have been installed on Tuo Jiang .

Besides its anti-ship missiles, Tuo Jiang is armed with a 76 mm Oto Melara main gun. As well, two triple torpedo tubes enable it to engage in anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missions, while a stern-mounted Raytheon 20 mm Vulcan Phalanx close-in weapon system (CIWS) and four 12.7 mm machine guns provides point defence against missiles and small surface targets. Chaff dispensers mounted on the vessel's fore and aft sections improve its survivability against infrared- and radar-guided anti-ship missiles.


First-of-class Tuo Jiang (618) is being employed as a testbed to determine the type's performance capabilities and limitations, as well as new technologies that could be incorporated into future vessels in the class. (IHS/Kelvin Wong)

An RoCN official told IHS Jane's that the rear deck of Tuo Jiang is a multimission payload bay designed to accommodate up to two 20 ft (6.1 m) ISO-standard mission module containers, although the service is still deliberating on the type of systems to integrate onto the vessel.

"We are not ready to discuss what these modules will be as we are still trying to understand the capabilities and limitations of this new ship," he said. "However, we can essentially configure [it] to perform a wide range of missions such as mine countermeasures if deemed necessary."

IHS Jane's was also briefed on the other features of the vessel, which include mission bays in the rear of each hull. A towed sonar array is currently deployed from the port mission bay, while an overhead boom extends from the starboard bay to launch and recover a 6 m rigid-hull inflatable boat (RHIB).

With up to 12 stealth missile corvettes potentially being acquired under the TWD24.98 billion (USD801 million) Hsun Hai (Swift Sea) programme, data accumulated from ongoing evaluations of Tuo Jiang will influence the development as well as refinements to the follow-on vessels in the class.

Moreover, new technologies, such as the Sea Oryx surface-to-air missile (SAM) system and the navalised Tien Chien II air defence missile developed by CSIST, could potentially be incorporated onto subsequent Tuo Jiang-class vessels. Computer-generated video footage of the missile corvette employing both missile systems debuted at TADTE 2015, depicting a successful defence of the ship against multiple anti-ship missiles as well as the destruction of their launch platforms.


Tuo Jiang can embark two 20 ft ISO mission module containers on its rear deck, enabling it to be configured for a range of operations. (IHS/Kelvin Wong)

The Sea Oryx SAM is primarily designed to intercept anti-ship missiles, low-flying aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Employing either an eight-round or 16-round missile canister, the system launches a navalised and upgraded variant of the short-range Tien Chien I (Sky Sword I) air defence missile carried by the Taiwanese air force's Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) and the army's mobile ground-based Antelope air defence system. The navalised missile, however, features a new imaging infrared (IIR) seeker, an enhanced rocket motor, as well as folding control and stabilising fins. While the Sea Oryx SAM system is still under development, CSIST is offering it as a potential upgrade for the gun-based CIWS fitted on Tuo Jiang as well as other RoCN major surface combatants.

CSIST is also pushing a navalised variant of the radar-guided Tien Chien II air defence missile as an option for the Tuo Jiang class. Designed to engage airborne and missile targets at ranges beyond the naval Tien Chien I missile, the Tien Chien IIN has been upgraded with a rocket booster and thrust vector controller for extended range and increased manoeuvrability. Official performance data of the navalised missiles were not disclosed, but IHS Jane's Weapons: Naval notes that the Tien Chien IIN could have a maximum range of 21.5 n miles.
Taiwan highlights new features, further development for Tuo Jiang stealth corvette - IHS Jane's 360
 
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