Tien Chi

The Tien Chi is a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) developed by Taiwan. Its short 120 km range makes it incapable of striking China from mainland Taiwan, but it would be within range of China from forward-based positions on Tungyin island, where it is believed to be deployed.

Tien Chi at a Glance

Originated from: Taiwan
Possessed by: Taiwan
Alternate name(s): Sky Halberd / Sky Spear
Class: Short-range ballistic missile (SRBM)
Basing: Silo-based
Length: 8.0 m
Diameter: 0.41 m
Launch weight: 1,150 kg
Payload: Single warhead, 100-200 kg
Propulsion: Two-stage solid propellant
Range: 120 km
Status: Unknown
In service: 2001

Tien Chi Development

Little background information is available on the Tien Chi. Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) is believed to manage the project. Analysts have speculated that it could be derived from Taiwan’s Tien Kung 2 (Sky Bow 2) surface-to-air missile, but the Taiwan Defense Ministry has denied this theory.1 Although the missile was originally intended to have a range of 300 km while carrying a 500-kg payload, it is currently capable of a 120 km range while carrying a 100-200 kg payload. The missile was reportedly first test fired in 1997.2 According to one analyst, it appears that development of the Hsiung Feng IIE land-attack cruise missile has supplanted the Tien Chi program in terms of priority.3


The Tien Chi has a length of 8.0 m, a body diameter of 0.41 m, and a launch weight of approximately 1,150 kg. The missile incorporates inertial navigation and GPS technology, and has a reported range of 120 km while carrying an estimated 100-200 kg submunitions warhead. It is a two-staged missile and is solid-fueled.4

Service History

Unconfirmed reports have suggested that Taiwan has deployed 15 to 50 of the missiles on the Tungyin and Penghu Islands.5

    1. “Tien Chi,” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C. O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 102-103.
    2. “Taiwan: Overview,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, May 2015, http://www.nti.org/learn/countries/taiwan/.
    3. Jeffrey Lewis, “Red Bird Express,” Arms Control Wonk, January 25, 2015, http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/207496/red-bird-express/.
    4. IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic, 102-103.
    5. IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic, 102-103.