The CSIST is believed to have started a ramjet test vehicle program in 1990s, and this project was later merged with the Hsiung Feng (anti-ship missile systems) program. Flight testing of the definitive HF-3 prototype started in 7/2001. Operational testing and evaluation was started in late-2004 and was completed by 7/2005, on board the PFG-1101. According to Taiwan Defense Review, the supersonic HF-3 missile will dramatically reduce the reaction time available to the target. The typical reaction time against a high-subsonic anti-ship (Mach 0.85) missile like the Harpoon or HF-2, when it is detected by the target vessel's onboard radar, is about 2 minutes. An HF-3 missile, flying at just above Mach 2 at comparable sea-skimming altitude during the attack phase could cover the same distance in less than 35 seconds.
The HF-3 missile uses a rocket-ramjet propulsion system, with two side-by-side solid-propellant jettisonable strap-on rocket boosters for initial acceleration and a liquid-fueled ramjet (believed to be using JP-10 fuel) for sustained supersonic cruise. The missile features a wingless design with four strake intakes and four clipped delta control surfaces aft. The air intake design arrangement was reported to have been optimized for evasive maneuvering at terminal sea-skimming altitudes. The missile is designed to be capable of way-pointing and can be programmed to fly offset attack axes to saturate defenses. It is also capable of high-G lateral terminal "random weaving" maneuvers to evade close-in defenses.
The HF-3 missile uses an X band monopulse planar array active radar homing seeker evolved from that utilized by the HF-2 anti-ship missile series, but with improved digital signal processing and data-handling capabilities that address the shorter reaction time requirements available to a supersonic anti-ship missile. The missile ECCM's includes resistance to range gate pull-off (RGPO), and the missile's maximum speed at low alttudes is reported to be in the range of Mach 2.3-2.7, with higher cruising speed at greater altitudes. The HF-3 uses a Self-Forging Fragment/SFF (i.e., Explosively-Formed Projectile/EFP) warhead reported to be in the 225 kg weight class and designed to be triggered by a smart fuze that directs most of the explosive energy downward once it has detected that the missile is inside the target ship's hull.
Its minimum effective range is reported to be around 16 nm, due to the time and distance needed for the missile to transition to a stable, supersonic flight and attain the attack profile following target acquisition.
According to a Liberty Times article on May 10, 2005, the basic R&D phase of the HF-3 was mostly complete by that time, and the system was to undergo various countermeasure tests before entering service. According to the article, the main difficulty in designing the HF-3 involved violent trans-sonic vibrations damaging missile parts; advances in materials science and orbiting welding technology allowed extensive weight lightening of the HF-3 system. It is deployed aboard the ROC Navy's Lafayette/Kang Ding class and Perry/Cheng Kung class frigates, and may possibly be deployed on the Kwang Hwa VI class missile boats.
The missile was officially revealed on Oct. 10, 2007 at a military parade.
Two versions of HF-3 exist so far, a land based and a shipborne version that might be shorter in range in order to fit on board Taiwan's naval ships, as seen of 4 such HF-3 boxes (with 4 other HF-2 AShM) on board ROCN frigate PFG-1101 Cheng Kung as of 2006 and PFG-1105 was seen with 4 HF-3 boxes as of June 2009 with new launchers that can launch both HF-2 and HF-3. It is expected remaining ships of the class will be backfitted with HF-3 SSMs when they undergo their major overhaul. The HF-3 missile is expected to be deployed in the same mixed configuration (i.e., 4xHF-2s and 4xHF-3s) similar to that seen on the PFG-1101. This mixed (HF-2/HF-3) installation provides a unique and interesting capability, combining the low-signature characteristics of the subsonic, sea-skimming HF-2 with the high-speed penetration capability of the HF-3 missile. Also DDG-1802 (a Kidd-class destroyer) was spotted on December 2008, carrying 8 HF-3 SSMs in original Harpoon SSM position midship at Suao naval base. Ching Chiang class patrol ship (total 12 built) also are undergoing the same upgrade to carry 2x2 HF-2/3 anti-ship missiles with the new launchers that can carry both types of anti-ship missiles.
On Sept 7th, 2009, it was speculated by the media ROC Navy is completing a new class of missile craft that will carry 8 HF-3 SSM called the Tuo Chiang class corvette, a small-waterplane-area twin hull design.
HF-3 is currently in volume production under project Chase Wind (??), and is in found on most fleet ship missile boats.