Taiwanese Navy Will Commission Two Stealth Corvettes Next Month

The Taiwanese Navy plans to commission the 3rd and 4th Tuo Chiang-class corvettes, Wu Chiang and Hsu Chiang, next month.

Taiwanese news outlets reported that the Hsu Chiang was delivered in February and the Wu Chiang in March of this year. The first batch of six was all delivered, with the Taiwanese Navy receiving the An Chiang and the Wan Chiang last month.

The second batch is currently in production and will finish in 2026.

Specifications 

The first batch of corvettes carries 16 TC-2N Sea Sword II surface-to-air missiles, four Hsiung Feng III supersonic anti-ship missiles, eight Hsiung Feng II anti-ship missiles, a 76mm OTO Melara deck gun, and a Phalanx Close-in Weapons System (CIWS).

The in-production second batch will feature a similar loadout, featuring 16 TC-2N Sea Sword II surface-to-air missiles, four Hsiung Feng II missiles, eight Hsiung Feng III missiles, a 76mm OTO Melara deck gun, and a Phalanx CIWS.

Photo of a Tuo Chiang class-corvette during naval exercise. Source: Tien Yu-hua, Taipei Times

The corvettes are 198 feet (60.4 meters) in length, 45 feet wide (14 m), and have a draft of 7.5 feet (2.3 meters). The ship displaces around 567 tons of water. The vessel’s top speed is 45 knots (83 km/h or 52 mph), powered by two MTU 20V, 4000 M93L diesel engines, and four MJP CSU 850 waterjets. The ship can also operate in harsh environments, such as 20–30 foot (6.1–9.1 m) waves. 

The corvette’s radar cross section (RCS) is said to be the size of a fishing boat, thanks to advanced radar and stealth technology. 

A flight deck, primarily for vertical replenishment, allows helicopters to resupply seaborne vessels, extending their operational range. 

Current Fleet of Corvettes

Taiwan operates two classes of corvettes: the newer Tuo Chiang-class and the older Ching Chiang-class.

Photo of an older Ching-Chiang corvette. Source: @Stoa1984 on X (formally Twitter)

Taiwan commissioned the Ching Chiang-class in 1994 and finished production of the 12 ships in 2000. The lead ship, Ching Chiang (PGG-603), was retired in February 2021. Four more have been retired, and seven are currently active.

Analysis

Taiwan increasing naval power by bringing on these two additional corvettes is part of a larger plan to improve the Navy amid rising tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

The decision to switch to local defense production will benefit Taiwan as it decreases the need for foreign equipment. Domestic manufacturing allows them to continue production, development, and repairs, among other things, regardless of a naval blockade or shipping lanes being cut off. 

The Tuo Chiang-class is an upgrade compared to the older Ching-Chiang. Although the Ching-Chiang saw some weapons upgrades in 2012, the Tuo Chiang-class will likely replace the Ching Chiang-class over time. The Tuo Chiang-class features better stealth technology, weaponry, radar, stability, and cruising speeds.

The Ching Chiang-class also lacks a flight deck, preventing vertical replenishment. The vessel’s lack of resupply through airpower limits them, meaning they would have to return to port, whereas the Tuo Chiang-class would not. 

The new class of corvettes was designed to counter the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) more numerous vessels through hit-and-run tactics. This approach could allow Taiwan to sink or damage PLAN ships, such as corvettes, frigates, and amphibious landing craft, potentially before the PLAN could mobilize and respond. The superior electronics and radar could result in better reconnaissance of enemy forces. 

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