The Hsiung Feng IIE is a subsonic land-attack cruise missile. It has a 600 km range, and is the only one of Taiwan’s Hsiung Feng cruise missile variants specifically designed for land-attack missions. An extended range HF-2E variant is reportedly under development.
Hsiung Feng IIE at a Glance
Originated from: Taiwan
Possessed by: Taiwan
Alternate name(s): Hsiung Feng IIE, Brave Wind IIE
Class: Subsonic land-attack cruise missile
Basing: Ground-launched, road-mobile
Length: 6 m (IIER – 6.25 m)
Diameter: 0.50 m
Launch weight: Unitary warhead, 200 kg (IIER – 400-450 kg)
Payload: 225 kg, Semi-armor piercing High Explosive, Fragmentation
Propulsion: Solid-propellant booster, liquid-fueled turbojet engine
Range: 600 km (extended range variant – 1,250 km)
Speed: 290 m/s
In service: 2011-present
Hsiung Feng IIE Development
The Hsiung Feng IIE program likely started in 2001 to give Taiwan the ability to strike targets deeper in mainland China. Prior to its development, most Taiwanese missiles could only reach a few hundred kilometers, limiting strike capabilities to coastal areas. The extended range of the Hsiung Feng IIE makes it possible for the Taiwanese military to target surveillance and reconnaissance assets, radar, missile sites, airfields, and other critical PLA installations.1 The Hsiung Feng IIE was developed by the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST).
Despite its name, the Hsiung Feng IIE does not appear to be derived from the Hsiung Feng II, but rather a different line of design entirely, which bears many similarities to the U.S. Tomahawk (RGM-109) cruise missile. According to one source, the Hsiung Feng IIE designation was intentionally used to divert attention away from the true nature of the project – creating a longer-range strike capability.2 The Hsiung Feng IIE was reportedly test-fired for the first time in June 2005.3 According to Chinese media, Taiwan also successfully test-fired the missile in October 2007.4
The missile’s development was quickly met with strong resistance from the United States, which has at times expressed reservations about Taiwan’s offensive capabilities.5 Nevertheless, Taiwan continued to proceed with the program. Some analysts have linked continued Hsiung Feng IIE development to Washington’s refusal to sell Taiwan the F-16C/Ds, which Taiwan had been seeking since 2006. It is also possible that Washington’s initial refusal to sell more of the advanced fighter jet to Taiwan was a result of Taipei’s decision to embark on the Hsiung Feng IIE program.6 Due to changing regional security dynamics, however, U.S. concerns over Taiwan’s offensive missile programs have lessened in recent years.7
Taiwan reportedly test-fired an 800 km range variant of the HF-2E in January 2008.8 The new variant is still believed to be in development.
On November 1, 2018, Taiwanese Upmedia news agency reported that an extended range HF-2E is near completion of first-phase production. At least 100 of these missiles are set to be produced, with a budget of about US$440 million. These missiles, with an extended range of over 1,200 km, would significantly increase Taiwan’s ability to strike targets deep into the Chinese mainland.9
The Hsiung Feng IIE has a length of 6.0 m, a body diameter of 0.50 m, and a launch weight of 980 kg. The missile carries a single warhead of approximately 200 kg. Most sources put its range at 600 km, although a 2017 U.S. National Air and Space Intelligence Center report lists the HF-2E range at 300 km.10 The missile is based on a mobile, land platform and is propelled by a solid-fueled booster and liquid-fueled turbojet engine. The missile is guided by INS/GPS and uses terrain matching technology to improve strike accuracy. 11 According to one analyst, it has a pre-terminal accuracy of 15 m CEP.12
The Hsiung Feng IIE entered low-rate initial production in 2009, with a target output of 50 missiles before 2010. Full-rate production began around 2011.13 Little is known about its present deployments beyond a March 2018 deployment to Taiwan’s Taoyuan city near Taipei as a response to rising tensions between the island and mainland China.14