Wan Chien

The Wan Chien is an air-to-ground, subsonic cruise missile developed by Taiwan. The missile program first came to light in 2005 and is currently operational in small numbers.

Wan Chien at a Glance

Originated from: Taiwan
Possessed by: Taiwan
Alternate name(s): Ten Thousand Swords
Class: Subsonic
Basing: Air-launched
Length: 3.5 m
Diameter: 0.63 m
Launch weight: 650 kg
Payload: 350 kg submunitions, high explosive, semi-armor piercing
Propulsion: Turbojet
Range: 240 km
Status: Operational
In service: 2011-present

Wan Chien Development

Wan ChienDevelopment of the Wan Chien is believed to have started around 2000, led by Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST). Taiwan reportedly began developing its own guided munitions after the United States – Taiwan’s main arms supplier – declined to sell it such systems.1 The program became known publicly in November 2005, and the missile entered service in 2011.2 Full production was expected to begin in 2015, but former Taiwanese President Ma Ying-Jeou chose to reduce the quantity to be produced. In June 2017, however, a Taiwanese report claimed that current President Tsai Ing-wen’s government had plans to restore production of the Wan Chien to above 100 weapons.3

The missile was first publicly displayed on January 16, 2014 at a ceremony held at Tainan Air Base in Southern Taiwan.4

Wan Chien Deployment

The Wan Chien’s capabilities have been likened to the U.S. AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) and the MBDA-developed Storm Shadow.5 The missile is carried by Taiwan’s F-CK-1 Ching Kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter. Reports suggest that the Wan Chien’s primary mission is suppression attacks on enemy airfields, ports, missile sites, and radar positions.6

With a range of 240 km, the Wan Chien can be launched from outside the range of most Chinese air-defense systems deployed along the country’s southeastern coast.7 As one Taiwanese lawmaker and military analyst explained, “Taiwan’s warplanes can strike military targets along China’s southeast coast with the ‘Wan Chien’ missiles from long distances to avoid the huge risk of getting deep into China’s aerial defence net.”8

Wan Chien Specifications

The Wan Chien is 3.5 m in length, with a diameter of 0.63 m, and launch weight of approximately 650 kg. The missile has a maximum range of 240 km, and includes pop-out wings that extend after launch with a span of 1.5 m. The missile is guided by INS/GPS and may have a terminal seeker. The payload is approximately 350 kg with either a high explosive, semi-armor piercing, or submunitions warhead.9 The submunitions warhead can reportedly be equipped with as many as 100 bomblets.10

    1. South China Morning Post, “Taiwan develops ‘smart munitions against China,” South China Morning Post, September 21, 2013, http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1314708/taiwan-develops-smart-munitions-against-china.
    2. “Wan Chien,” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C. O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 207.
    3. Zhu Ming, “漢光兵推嚇阻解放軍有效 空軍將添購近百枚萬劍彈,” Up Media, June 19, 2017, http://www.upmedia.mg/news_info.php?SerialNo=19061.
    4. J. Michael Cole, “Taiwan Unveils ‘Wan Chien’ Air-To-Ground Cruise Missile,” The Diplomat, January 17, 2014, http://thediplomat.com/2014/01/taiwan-unveils-wan-chien-air-to-ground-cruise-missile/.
    5. Ibid.
    6. J. Michael Cole, “More Missiles for Asia,” The Diplomat, October 8, 2012, http://thediplomat.com/2012/10/south-korea-and-a-new-asian-missile-game/.
    7. J. Michael Cole, “Taiwan Unveils ‘Wan Chien’ Air-To-Ground Cruise Missile.”
    8. SAPA-AFP, “Taiwan to produce new anti-China missiles,” Times Live, September 6, 2011, https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/world/2011-09-06-taiwan-to-produce-new-anti-china-missiles/.
    9. IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, 207.
    10. J. Michael Cole, “More Missiles for Asia.”