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
- Possessed by
- Alternative name
- Ten Thousand Swords
- Subsonic Cruise Missile
- 3.5 m
- 0.63 m
- Launch weight
- 650 kg
- 350 kg submunitions, high explosive, semi-armor piercing
- 240 km
- In service
Wan Chien Development
The Wan Chien missile program began around 2000, led by Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST). The weapon is designed for suppression attacks on Chinese airfields, ports, missile sites, and radar positions.1 Taiwan reportedly began developing its own guided munitions after the United States, Taiwan’s main arms supplier, declined to sell it such systems.2
The program was unveiled in November 2005, and the missile entered service in 2011.3 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.4 The Wan Chien was declared fully operational in August 2018.5
The missile was first publicly displayed on January 16, 2014 at a ceremony held at Tainan Air Base in Southern Taiwan.6
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.7 The submunitions warhead can reportedly be equipped with as many as 100 bomblets.8
The Wan Chien’s capabilities have been likened to the U.S. AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW) and the MBDA-developed Storm Shadow.9 The missile is carried by Taiwan’s F-CK-1 Ching Kuo Indigenous Defense Fighter. The Wan Chien and F-CK-1 fighter aircraft have deployed previously to Taiwan’s Makung Air Force Base on the Penghu archipelago.10
With a range of 240 km, the missile can be launched from outside the range of most Chinese air-defense systems deployed along the country’s southeastern coast.11 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.”12
- 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/.
- 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.
- “Wan Chien,” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, ed. James C. O’Halloran (United Kingdom: IHS, 2015), 207.
- 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.
- “Report: Taiwanese Air Force’s New Stand-Off Cruise Missile Is Operational,” The Diplomat, August 7, 2018, https://thediplomat.com/2018/08/report-taiwanese-air-forces-new-stand-off-cruise-missile-is-operational/.
- 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/.
- IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic 2015-2016, 207.
- J. Michael Cole, “More Missiles for Asia.”
- “Taiwan Displays Air-Launched Cruise Missiles At Air Base In Heart Of Taiwan Strait,” The Drive, September 22, 2020, https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/36654/taiwan-displays-air-launched-cruise-missiles-at-air-base-in-heart-of-taiwan-strait.
- J. Michael Cole, “Taiwan Unveils ‘Wan Chien’ Air-To-Ground Cruise Missile.”
- 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/.