Taiwan to build 12 new domestic Tien-Kung III (Sky Bow III) missile sites by 2026

Taiwan is in the process of constructing 12 new indigenous Tien-Kung III or Sky Bow III (TK III) land-based surface-to-air missile sites by the end of 2026. This development is intended to address the perceived threat posed by China's ballistic missile systems, as per a Ministry of National Defense (MND) report released on October 20 and echoed by Novia Huang and Joseph Yeh.
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TK III launcher and a missile model displayed in 2014 (Picture source: Wikipedia)

The decision to establish these new missile sites is based on recommendations from Taiwan's National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), a prominent military research institution. The NCSIST concluded that the existing TK II missile system, which Taiwan previously employed, was no longer effective against the evolving capabilities of the People's Liberation Army's ballistic missile systems. As a result, the MND has opted to modernize its current infrastructure.

According to the MND's plan, they will upgrade existing MIM-23 HAWK missile system sites and TK II missile sites, transforming them into 12 new missile sites designed to accommodate the advanced TK III land-based surface-to-air missile systems. The report does not specify the total number of existing TK III missile sites in Taiwan.

The project is being executed in multiple phases. The first phase, initiated in 2022, focuses on converting six older missile sites to be compatible with the advanced TK III systems, with an anticipated completion date before the end of 2025. Simultaneously, work on the remaining six TK III missile sites began earlier this year, with completion expected before the close of 2026.

The TK III system's significance lies in its versatility and its capability to engage a range of threats, including aircraft, cruise missiles, anti-radiation missiles, and short-range tactical missiles. Additionally, the system has the capacity to launch older missile variants within the TK family, such as TK I and II missiles.

The TK III system operates alongside the U.S.-acquired Patriot system and serves as an integral component of Taiwan's low-altitude air defense network, according to information from the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology's website. This collaborative approach underscores Taiwan's commitment to ensuring its national security and defense in the face of regional challenges.

Defense News October 2023