The government of Taiwan expect to deploy at least two new nationally manufactured submarines before 2027, and possibly equip later models with missiles, to strengthen deterrence against the Chinese navy and protect key supply lines, stated the head of the program.
Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, has made the indigenous submarine program a key piece of an ambitious project to modernize its armed forceswhile Beijing conducts military exercises almost daily to assert its sovereignty.
The submarine, which will be called Hai Kun in honor of the sea monster of a Chinese legend, it is the first of the eight planned to reinforce the island’s defenses against the growing Chinese navy, according to information from the media The Times.
The Taiwanese president, Tsai Ing-wenwhich began the program when it took office in 2016, plans to launch the first of the submarines on Thursday as part of a plan that has taken advantage of the experience and technology of several countries, which represents a great advance for diplomatic isolation of the island.
The Admiral Huang Shu-kuangTsai’s security adviser, who heads the program, said a fleet of 10 submarines – including two Dutch-made ones ordered in the 1980s – will make it difficult for the Chinese navy to project power in the Pacific.
“If we can develop this combat capability, I don’t think we’ll lose a warHuang said this month at an internal briefing on the project, attended by the news agency Reuters.
Huang said the first submarine, valued 1.54 billion dollars, will use a Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) combat system and carry American-made MK-48 heavy torpedoes. It will begin sea trials next month before delivery to the Navy in late 2024.
For later models, Taiwan will leave room for submarine-launched anti-ship missiles, but adding those weapons depends on the availability of production in the U.S., where capacity was already scarce, Huang said, without naming companies that could participate.
He described the submarines as “strategic deterrence” for Chinese warships to cross the strait Miyakonear the southwest of Japanor the channel Bashiwhich separates Taiwan from the Philippines.
Huang indicated that Taiwan’s diesel-electric submarines can keep China at bay within the first island chain, referring to the area running from Japan through Taiwan, the Philippines and to Borneo, enclosing China’s coastal seas.
“This was also the strategic concept of the US military: contain them within the first island chain and deny them access”Huang noted. “If Taiwan is taken, Japan will definitely not be safe, South Korea will definitely not be safe.”.
The Chinese navy, including its aircraft carrier Shandonghas been increasingly active in recent months off the eastern coast of Taiwan, leading to fears that China could launch an attack from that direction. Eastern Taiwan is where planners have long envisioned the island’s military to regroup and preserve its forces during a conflict.
Huang said submarines can help maintain “life line” of the island with the Pacifickeeping Taiwan’s east coast ports open for supplies in case of conflict.
“The submarines will keep their ships away from our eastern shores,” he said.
Chieh Chunga military researcher at the Taiwan National Policy Foundation, indicated that the fleet would have problems with that task, because China could position warships in the Pacific before launching an attack.
But he added that the submarines could occupy strategic ambush points in the region and “greatly damage (China’s) combat capability” targeting high-value vessels, such as aircraft carrier groups or landing fleets.
Taiwan has four submarines, but they are all veterans. Two of them date back to World War II and were loaned by the United States in the 1970s, and the rest are models from the 1980s bought second-hand from Holland, according to The Times.
(With information from Reuters)