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The missile, the Hsiung Feng-III, is believed to be the fastest supersonic Mach 2-class anti-ship missile in the world, surpassing the only other type in its class, the Russian-made Sunburn anti-ship missile that the Chinese navy has deployed. The missile has a rocket-ramjet engine, and it is equipped with an X-band monopulse planar array active radar that allows it to hone in on targets.

According to Taiwanese news reports, the test speed of the Hsiung Feng-III reached Mach 3, making it unmatched by any similar missile in the world. The original test distance was set at 87 miles, but the actual distance between the firing ship and the target was reportedly 250 miles, a significant feat.

Taiwanese military leaders think the Hsiung Feng-III provides the island with a deadly deterrence weapon against China’s lone aircraft carrier, the refurbished Liaoning, that was commissioned in late September and is viewed widely as a symbol of China’s rising naval power.

Miles Yu’s column appears Thursdays. He can be reached at