Taiwan’s navy has successfully tested a new radar-absorbent coating, the country’s first “stealth” technology material, local media are reporting.
The material, reportedly in development for a number of years, was recently tested on a 57-ton Hai Ou (Seagull) class fast attack boat, an aging class that has no stealth features, the Chinese-language United Daily News reported.
|The Seagull class ships are due to be retired at the end of the year.|
Two Seagulls, the No. 53 and No. 59, were deployed during the test, the report said. The hull, machine guns, missiles and cabin of the No. 53 were coated with the absorbent material and remained invisible to radar. The No. 59, used as a control, did not receive the coating and was easily detected.
Radar detected the No. 53 only after it came within sight, reports said.
When the two boats sailed away from the ship and could barely be observed by the naked eye, the No. 53 was no longer picked up by radar, while the control was still clearly visible, even more than 10 km (about 6.2 miles) away, reports said.
Unconfirmed reports within the navy also claim that during a test at night, an observer vessel was unable to pick up the No. 53 by radar at a distance of 730m.
The coating has halved the distance at which a vessel remains invisible to radar, reports said.
The Republic of China navy confirmed that it had tested the coatings, but declined to comment on the results.
Future Applications Unknown
It was not immediately clear if the material would be used in the navy's fleet of 10 locally manufactured 171-ton Kuang Hua VI (“Glorious China”) missile boats, whose design is already intended to reduce radar detection, Agence France-Presse reported.
Ten Kuang Hua-class vessels entered service in May 2010. China Shipbuilding Corp., of Taiwan, is to deliver 20 more of the ships to the navy by February.
The ships, armed with four Taiwan-made Hsiungfeng II (Brave Wind) ship-to-ship missiles, are intended to replace the Israeli-designed Seagull-class missile boats, which are to be retired at the end of the year, the navy said.
Tensions between Taiwan and its former rival China have reduced markedly since Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang party came to power in 2008 on promises of beefing up trade links and allowing in more Chinese tourists. Taiwan has governed itself since China's civil war ended in 1949, prompting Taiwan to continue modernizing its armed forces.
But Beijing still considers the island part of its territory awaiting reunification—by force, if necessary, AFP notes.