Taiwan deploys new powerful rocket system: Report

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan has deployed a powerful multiple-launch rocket system on an offshore island to guard against any amphibious landing by China, local media reported on Wednesday.

The weapon, called Ray Ting 2000 or Thunder 2000, went into service for the first time on Matsu island and could reach China's Fujian province across the Taiwan Strait, the United Evening News cited sources as saying.

The defence ministry declined to comment.

The system can launch 40 rockets in a minute with a range of 45km, the report said.

Thunder 2000 is expected to enhance the military's anti-landing capabilities as it phases out the current rocket system introduced three decades ago, military experts have said.

They said the longer range could destroy landing craft before they reach the shore, while the truck-mounted launchers could be combat-ready in eight minutes, less than half the time of the current system.

The ministry reportedly plans to produce more than 50 such systems at a cost of NT$14.5 billion ($607 million).

China and Taiwan split in 1949 after a civil war, with the defeated Nationalists retreating to the island.

Ties have improved markedly since 2008, when a Beijing-friendly government came to power in Taipei.

But China still considers Taiwan part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.