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  • By Lo Tien-pin and Jonathan Chin / Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Ta Chiang, an upgraded version of the navy’s Tuo Chiang-class missile corvette, is to be delivered this month, one month ahead of schedule, a military source said yesterday.

The 685-tonne Ta Chiang is the first in a planned series of high-performance ships modeled after the Tuo Chiang, the source said.

The navy is to conduct evaluations in the next few days before accepting the ship, the source added.

The Ta Chiang is heavier than its predecessor’s 567 tonnes after anti-aircraft weapons were added to the original design at the navy’s request, the source said.

The guided-missile corvette is equipped with two eight-cell Sky Sword II anti-aircraft missile launchers, instead of two six-cell launchers as reported by media, the source said, confirming an image of the ship taken by outside observers.

Other armament include Brave Wind II and Brave Wind III surface-to-surface anti-ship missiles, among others, the source said.

As the Ta Chiang’s tonnage, equipment and systems have been beefed up substantially compared with the Tuo Chiang’s original design, the planned missile corvettes might be designated as Ta Chiang-class instead of Tuo Chiang-class, the source added.

The Ministry of National Defense has yet to make a decision on the issue, the source said.

Admiral Huang Shu-kuang (黃曙光) reportedly visited Lung Teh Shipbuilding Co and CSBC Corp, Taiwan’s shipyards yesterday, his last day as the chief of the general staff, in a display of his attention to the program.

In other news, after a six-month training program, six UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters received last year by the National Airborne Service Corps are this month to be deployed for rescue missions.

The ministry has allocated 15 of the 60 Black Hawk helicopters purchased from the US to the corps to be used in airborne search-and-rescue missions.

The final batch of six helicopters earmarked for the corps arrived at Kaohsiung Harbor in October last year, the corps said in a statement.

They have since been painted red and stationed in Kaohsiung, the corps said.

The helicopter brigade has spent the past six months training so that their crew can conduct day and nighttime search missions at sea, the corps said.

Crew have also enhanced their mid-air rescue capabilities, it said.

The helicopters are equipped with forward-looking infrared imaging systems, as well as searchlights, and radar and satellite communication systems.

Their addition is a huge boost to the nation’s airborne search-and-rescue capabilities, the corps said.

Additional reporting by CNA

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