The Hsiung Feng III is a supersonic antiship cruise missile. It is Taiwan’s first supersonic missile, and marks the third and latest variant developed within Taiwan’s Hsiung Feng cruise missile family.
Hsiung Feng III at a Glance
- Originated from
- Possessed by
- Alternate names
- HF-3, Brave Wind III
- Supersonic antiship cruise missile
- Ship-, ground-launched
- 5.1 m
- 0.38 m
- Launch weight
- 660 kg
- 225 kg, Semi-armor piercing, High Explosive, Fragmentation
- Solid-propellant booster, liquid-fueled ramjet engine
- 120-150 km (extended range variant – 400 km)
- 680-780 m/s
- In service
Hsiung Feng III Development
Taiwan began the Hsiung Feng III program in 1994 to counter the growing number of China’s surface vessels and its advancing fleet defense systems. It was developed by the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST).1
The NCSIST first test fired the Hsiung Feng III in 1997. Further tests were reported in November 2004.2 Taiwan’s navy reportedly finished the initial operational test and evaluation in 2005.3 The Hsiung Feng III was first unveiled in Taipei during the 2007 Independence Day military parade.4 Although Taiwan initially developed Hsiung Feng III as an antiship cruise missile, the missile may also have land attack capabilities.5
Hsiung Feng IIIER
Several reports in 2017 have signaled the development of an extended-ranged Hsiung Feng III, titled the “HF-3ER project,” with testing slated for completion by the middle of 2017, and the missiles entering full production in 2018. These reports claim that Taiwan plans to produce ten to sixty Hsiung Feng IIIER missiles under projects codenamed “God’s Spear” and “Coiled Dragon.”6
These upgrades increased the missile’s range from 120-150 km to around 400 km.7
The standard-variant Hsiung Feng III measures 5.1 meters in length, 0.38 m in diameter, and weights around 660 kg at launch.8
The missile carries a single 120 kg high explosive, semi-armor piercing warhead. The Hsiung Feng III can likely range between 120-150 km.9 The missile is propelled by a solid-fueled booster and liquid-fueled ramjet engine.
The missile is guided by INS with terminal active radar homing. It is reportedly equipped with a smart fuse designed to direct most of the explosive energy downward once it has detected that the missile is inside the target ship’s hull, maximizing damage.10
The Hsiung Feng III missile system has been deployed to the Cheng Kung-class frigate, Tuo Chiang-class guided missile corvette, and Jin Chiang-class patrol gunboat.11 The larger, extended-range variant is planned to equip Taiwan’s Keelung-class destroyer and shore-based batteries.12
On 1 July 2016, a Taiwanese navy vessel accidentally fired an Hsiung Feng III missile during a training exercise, killing the captain of a fishing boat and injuring three crew members. According to Vice Adm. Mei Cia-shu of the Taiwanese navy, the missile’s targeting system tracked the fishing boat and made a direct hit. However, because of the missile’s smart fuse, it tore through the hull of the small boat without exploding.13
- “HF III Supersonic Anti-Ship Missile,” NCSIST, June 19, 2017, http://www.ncsist.org.tw/eng/csistdup/products/product.aspx?product_Id=10&catalog=30.
- “Hsiung Feng I/II/IIE/III,” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Naval 2016-2017, ed. David Ewing & Malcolm Fuller (United Kingdom: IHS, 2016), 118-122.
- IHS Jane’s Weapons: Naval, 118-122.
- “From Subsonic to Hypersonic Cruise Missiles: Revolution or Evolution in Land Attack Capabilities?” in Emerging Critical Technologies and Security in the Asia-Pacific, ed. Richard A. Bitzinger (United Kingdom: Palgrave MacMillan, 2016), .
- Russell Hsiao, “Taiwan Reportedly Plans to Upgrade Supersonic Hsiung Feng III Missiles,” The National Interest, October 20, 2016, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/taiwan-reportedly-plans-upgrade-supersonic-hsiung-feng-iii-18120.
- Luo Tianbin, “The extended range Xiongsan research and development breaks through the bottleneck and the maximum range will reach 400 kilometers,” Liberty Times Net, June 8, 2019, https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/politics/breakingnews/2815879; Mike Yeo, “Taiwan to upgrade indigenous missile capabilities,” Defense News, February 6, 2017, http://www.defensenews.com/articles/taiwan-to-upgrade-indigenous-missile-capabilities.
- Terrence K. Kelly, Anthony Atler, Todd Nichols, and Lloyd Thrall, “Employing Land-Based Anti-Ship Missiles in the Western Pacific,” Rand Corporation (Arroyo Center), 2013, 15, https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/pdfs/ADA588613.pdf.
- IHS Jane’s Weapons: Naval, 118-122; Yeo.
- NCSIST; Franz-Stefan Gady, “Taiwan’s Newest Weapon Against China,” The Diplomat, April 3, 2015, http://thediplomat.com/2015/04/taiwans-newest-weapon-against-china/.
- Collin Koh (@CollinSLKoh), Twitter, June 8, 2019, https://twitter.com/CollinSLKoh/status/1137243954171133952.
- Austin Ramzy, “Taiwan Navy Accidentally Fires Antiship Missile, Killing Fisherman,” The New York Times, July 1, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/02/world/asia/taiwan-china-missile.html.