Sunday, September 27, 2015

Half the Key, At Best

Taiwan is focusing on small expendable anti-ship vessels to defend the Taiwan Strait. That's half the naval battle.

Taiwan is reacting appropriately to the new age when American carrier battle groups can no longer sail with impunity through the Taiwan Strait to deter China from invading Taiwan:

These new corvettes are the continuation of a trend in the Taiwanese Navy, which sees small ships carrying lots of anti-ship missiles as the key to success against the Chinese navy. Thus in 2010 the first of 31 KH-6 guided missile patrol boats entered service. These 34.2 meter (106 foot) long, seven meter (22 foot) wide, 170 ton ships have a crew of 19. They were armed with four Hsiung Feng-2 anti-ship missiles, a 20mm autocannon, two 7.62mm machine-guns, and two decoy (for incoming missiles) launchers. Top speed is 55 kilometers an hour. At cruising speed of 22 kilometers an hour, the ships can stay at sea for about two days at a time. All 31 KH-6s are now in service. The KH-6s replace thirty older and smaller (57 ton) Hai Ou class boats. These patrol boats guard the coast, and especially the 180 kilometers wide Taiwan Straits that separate China and Taiwan.

This is good. But it is only half the naval battle. Taiwan also needs larger ships and aircraft to hold open their sea lines of communication to the east, unless they want to endure a blockade of the island.