Thursday, December 15, 2011

Taiwan giving up on US subs, eyeing local plan

MND has reportedly commissioned a local shipbuilder to contract a country other than the US capable of building submarines for cooperation in building conventional subs

Taiwan has all but given up on acquiring diesel-electric submarines from the US and is expected to embark on a domestic program with assistance from abroad, a leading defense analyst told the Taipei Times.

Longstanding plans to augment Taiwan’s small and aging submarine fleet gained momentum in 2001, when the administration of US president George W. Bush offered to provide eight diesel-electric submarines to Taiwan for about US$12 billion.

With efforts going nowhere, in 2003 the Pentagon suggested that Taiwan consider buying refurbished submarines from Italy, and Rome reportedly agreed to sell four Nazario Sauro-class boats and an additional four following their decommissioning by the Italian Navy. However, Taipei rejected the offer, saying it wanted new submarines.

As a result of political wrangling in Taiwan’s legislature, moves by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the US to appease Beijing amid efforts at cross-strait reconciliation, and pressure from China on Washington, Bush’s deal never materialized. [...] The arms package announced to the US Congress by US President Barack Obama in October did not include submarines, or even a feasibility study.

This could be about to change, with a US defense analyst familiar with the Taiwanese military saying he feels positive the navy will move ahead on the submarine program in the not-so-distant future.

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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