Tien Chi

Last Updated 
PrintEmailFacebookTwitterLinkedInCopy Link

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 is likely forward-deployed to nearby island positions within striking distance.

Tien Chi at a Glance

Originated from
Possessed by
Alternative names
Sky Halberd / Sky Spear
Short-range ballistic missile (SRBM)
8.0 m
0.41 m
Launch weight
1,150 kg
Single warhead, 100-200 kg
Two-stage solid propellant
120 km
In service

Tien Chi Development

The Tien Chi’s development history remains obscure. Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) reportedly manages the weapons 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 May 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/; Missile Survey: Ballistic and Cruise Missiles of Selected Foreign Countries, CRS Report No. RL30427 (Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service, July 2005), 35, https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/RL/RL30427/3.
    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.
PrintEmailFacebookTwitterLinkedInCopy Link

Cite this Page

Missile Defense Project, "Tien Chi," Missile Threat, Center for Strategic and International Studies, July 13, 2017, last modified March 31, 2021, https://missilethreat.csis.org/missile/tien-chi/.