The Taiwanese Navy may be far smaller than that of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) of mainland China, but the island nation has also been engaged in a modernization and expansion program to ensure its independence. This week it announced that the Ta Chiang (PGG-619), an upgraded variant of the Tuo Chiang-class corvettes, would be delivered later in July, a full month ahead of schedule.
The 685-tonne Ta Chiang is also the first in a planned series of high-performance ships modeled after the class of corvettes. It is heavier than its predecessor, due to the addition of anti-aircraft weapons that have been added. It is also fitted with subsonic Hsiung Feng-II missiles, supersonic Hisung Feng-III anti-ship missiles, a 76mm cannon and the Tien-Chien II (Sky Sword II) air defense missile system. Each of the anti-aircraft missile launchers has eight cells. The Tien-Chien II is a medium-range, radar-guided air-to-air missile that was first revealed at the Paris Air Show in 2015.
The Taiwanese Navy will conduct evaluations of its new warship a few days before formally accepting it. An official commissioning ceremony will be held in August. Due to the significant changes, the vessel and subsequent ships built to the same design could be designated as the Ta Chiang-class instead of the original Tuo Chiang-class.
According to Taiwanese media, the ship’s name, Ta Chiang, is derived from the Tawa River in Taitung County, which runs through the ancestral hunting grounds of the Paiwan indigenous people, and it also alludes to the vessel’s symbolic role as a “tower” on the frontlines of Taiwan’s defense.
Last year, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense had announced plans to build three Tuo Chiang-class corvettes, which were to be delivered by 2025 to counter China’s increasing military threats. Those have included frequent aerial incursions into Taiwan’s southwest air defense identification zone (ADIZ) as well as an increasing number of naval drills near the island nation.
The military leaders in Taipei have revised those plans and have increased the number of vessels as well as the timetable to receive them. The goal is to have six of the corvettes in service by 2023. As a result, the delivery of Ta Chiang was moved up from later this year to July, after it had passed its warfare tests.
It isn’t just the Taiwanese Navy that is receiving new vessels, and last week Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration also took delivery of a new missile corvette, the Chenggong (CG-602). The vessel will be deployed in eastern Taiwan with the purpose of protecting the nation’s maritime rights including the interests of local fishermen.
It is the second Anping-class corvette, and can also be fitted with Hsiung Feng III and Hsiung Feng II anti-ship missiles, and thus converted into a fast-attack vessel in wartime.
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.