Channel NewsAsia reported the Taiwan Navy (Republic of China Navy, ROCN) will upgrade its six Kang Ding-class frigates to improve their air and missile defenses by installing new missile systems. The Sea Chaparral missiles, which had been in service on the frigates for about 20 years, will be replaced by the Sea Sword II (TC-2N), developed by Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST). The upgrading has been budgeted for the period from 2021 until 2030. The program, costing a total of NT$43.15 billion (US$1.55 billion), was described in a 2022 budget document filed by the Ministry of National Defense at the Legislative Yuan Tuesday.
The Sky Sword II (Tien Chien II, TC-2) is a medium-range, radar guided missile. It has an inertial navigation system, a data-link for mid-course guidance and active radar homing for terminal guidance, beyond visual range. It also has ECCM capability and can engage multiple targets. A ship-launched, surface-to-air version was later developed and designated TC-2N. It began development in 1994, and a ground-based test was first carried out against a low-flying drone in 1997. This development was revealed to the public in 2005 and the intention to make it compatible with vertical launch methods was later announced in 2006.
The first ship-based launch was held in mid 2014. In the naval role the TC-2N fills an air defense gap between the Phalanx CIWS and SM-2 systems and with a range of 30 km. The missile has all-weather capability, is equipped with a thrust-vectoring booster to increase its range as well as maneuverability during launch phase (although early ship-based launch trials were carried out without this feature), and can engage anti-ship missiles and aircraft. It also has folding control surfaces to be quad-packed into either above-deck oblique launchers or in-deck vertical launch systems. By May 2021 the TC-2N had passed its live fire trials and operational evaluations.
The six Kang Ding-class (La Fayette-class) frigates were procured from France in the early 1990s. The La Fayette class (also known as FL-3000 for “Frégate Légère de 3,000 tonnes”, or FLF for Frégate Légère Furtive) is a class of general purpose frigates built by DCNS and operated by the French Navy. The Exocet was replaced by Taiwan-developed Hsiung Feng II anti-ship missile and the AAW weapon is the Sea Chaparral. The Taiwan Navy plans to upgrade its air-defense capabilities with the indigenous TC-2N in 2020In 2021 it was reported that Taiwan would upgrade the frigates of this class with new air defence and combat systems.