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Taiwan says foreign subs, local sub program both in the cards

2014/09/22 19:04:06

Taipei, Sept. 22 (CNA) Buying submarines from abroad to replace an aging fleet remains a priority for Taiwan, but it is also planning a local submarine program to show its determination to get them, a Defense Ministry spokesman said Monday.

"We need to integrate the capabilities of domestic ship design companies and ship manufacturers" if Taiwan is to build its own diesel-electric submarines, said Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he.

Taiwan is hoping that the United States will share its experience and provide assistance with weaponry systems, design blueprints, system trials and other elements, Luo said, but noted that the military also would like the U.S. to help it acquire submarines from a foreign country.

Luo was responding to a report published by U.S. media Defense News on Saturday that outlined an ambitious military modernization project.

"Taiwan's Navy plans to build new destroyers, frigates, corvettes and submarines in a 20-year force modernization program that will replace all the U.S. and French-built warships in the fleet," the report said. "Details of the program will be released in November."

But a military source told CNA that the Navy is set to reveal its latest plan to build warships on its own to replace its aging fleet by the end of the year.

Domestic ship manufacturers have been evaluating the possibility of building indigenous submarines, said Navy officials, who stressed that Taiwan will need help from Western countries on components and systems.

Earlier this month, U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Jonathan Greenert acknowledged having a conversation with Taiwanese officials about Taiwan's efforts to acquire submarines, without offering any details.

In 2001, then-U.S. President George W. Bush decided to help Taiwan acquire eight diesel electric submarines but there has been little progress since then, prompting Taiwan to seek a solution on its own.

(By Claudia Liu and Elaine Hou)