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New Details Emerge About The Upcoming Submarines Of Taiwan

February 27, 2019

Via Wikimedia Commons.

An executive of the country’s largest shipyard revealed an indigenous submarine will be completed by 2024. This is to fulfill the ROC Navy’s requirements for the next decade where it anticipates an asymmetric war with China should hostilities commence across the Taiwan Strait. Last year had six companies vie for a submarine tender and it was rumored a team of Japanese engineers were advising CSBC Corp., the shipyard tasked with assembling the new vessels.

In late February CSBC Corp. organized a convention for its suppliers and its Chairman Cheng Wen-lon announced the company is releasing a technical report on the submarine’s design on March 21 and the country’s first locally made submarine may start testing on 2024 and then enter service by 2025.

Taiwan’s navy maintain a quartet of aging diesel-electric submarines whose effectiveness in a national crisis is negligible. The Chinese PLAN’s rapid growth, with its aspirations for organic carrier strike groups, matched by its adoption of innovative technology presents an overwhelming threat to the island nation. The lack of communication between Beijing in Taipei bodes ill for a diplomatic thaw and it’s no wonder Taiwan current leadership included aerospace and “defense” for the country’s economic plans. Aside from an unspecified number of diesel-electric submarines, Taiwan wants to harness its own resources for a new air defense system, a “light” multirole fighter-trainer, and intelligent drones.

In the naval domain, Taipei wants CSBC Corp. to not just function as a preferred contractor but serve as an incubator of new technology on par with critical subsystems produced by the US and some European countries. This is because aside from submarines, CSBC Corp. and its suppliers are tasked with three other vital projects. These are the construction of Coast Guard frigates; the design and development of Landing Platform Docks (LPD) able to transport a marine battalion; and the design and development of a new class of destroyers compatible with the US-made AEGIS combat system.

Of course, the quality of the US alliance with Taiwan matters too. As Washington, DC tries to pressure China with a new trade agreement it’s also making sure Taiwan’s national security is looked after. Since 2017, the US has transferred two guided missile frigates for the ROC Navy and helped the ROC Army establish a helicopter brigade of AH-64E gunships. US shipyards were competing in Taiwan’s submarine program and are the likeliest providers for technical assistance once construction begins. US Navy warships have done their part to help Taiwan, crossing the Taiwan strait in early July 2018 and for a second time this February.

Beijing’s actions towards Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen took office are consistent in their implied hostility. In line with President Xi Jinpings calls for a “rejuvenation” of China and the PLA’s needed war preparedness, elaborate exercises in the vicinity of the island nation are held each month. Among the more ominous provocations are flights by missile carrying H-6K bombers escorted by J-11 multirole fighters that cross the South China Sea and trace a path around Taiwan. These almost look like invasion rehearsals where the combined strength of China’s air force and navy blockade Taiwan as land-based ballistic missiles hit essential targets throughout the island.

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