Taiwan recently announced that in 2013 it plans to begin retrofitting Harpoon Block II antiship missiles into its Dutch-built submarines, the Hai Hu (pictured here) and sister Hai Lung. The Block II variant of the Harpoon antiship missile has a range of more than 60 miles and includes upgrades allowing it to operate in crowded littoral regions. The weapon also includes a GPS guidance system for land-attack capability. The Harpoon missile first entered service with the U.S. Navy in 1977, and successful sea trials of the export-only Block II variant were first conducted in June 2001. Taiwan’s submarine capabilities are in dire need of upgrade; its small fleet includes only the two Hai Lung boats that entered service in the late 1980s, plus two World War II–era Guppy II–class submarines transferred from the United States in 1973. The new Harpoon missiles will provide a significant offensive boost to these limited submarine capabilities, which until now had only included torpedoes and mines.
By Eric Wertheim