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DEFENSE/Defense minister defends estimated cost of indigenous sub program

04/17/2024 06:48 PM
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The indigenous submarine "Narwhal" undergoes tests in this CNA file photo
The indigenous submarine "Narwhal" undergoes tests in this CNA file photo

Taipei, April 17 (CNA) Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) on Wednesday defended the Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) program and said claims by local media that the cost per sub would soar were "unfair."

According to local media reports, the Navy estimated the cost of constructing the seven vessels over 15 years to be more than NT$280 billion (US$8.62 billion), averaging around NT$40 billion per vessel.

That is markedly higher than the prototype IDS Narwhal, also known by its Chinese name Hai Kun, which cost around NT$31.2 billion to build, the reports noted.

When asked about the issue by ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Chu-yin (林楚茵) during a legislative hearing on Wednesday, Chiu said that the estimate not only included construction costs but also expenses related to other classified items.

Opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Huang Jen (黃仁) also questioned why the cost per sub was expected to rise, quoting Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a research fellow at the defense ministry's Institute for National Defense and Security Research, who previously noted the cost of constructing each of the seven subs was expected to fall to about 80 percent of the price of building the prototype.

Chiu responded that the ministry plans to add "certain equipment" on the subs built after Narwahl as it was felt the prototype was "not necessarily sufficiently equipped."

Furthermore, the minister said, NT$280 billion was just an estimate given the budget proposal had not yet been submitted.

Taking that number and simply dividing it by seven was an "unfair" calculation method, he added.

Meanwhile, Chiu told reporters before attending the hearing that the resignation of IDS program convener Huang Shu-kuang (黃曙光) will not affect the program's progress.

The IDS program is a major project and a team effort in which all individuals take a unified stance and follow the same direction, Chiu said.

Therefore, it will not be affected by changes involving one individual, he added.

In a statement on Tuesday, Huang, a retired Navy admiral and a consultant for the National Security Council, said he tendered his resignation in hopes that it would put an end to politically charged, unfounded accusations and slander by certain politicians, academics, and media personalities targeting the IDS program.

There were no "political factors" involved in his resignation, Huang said, adding that certain individuals should stop perpetuating false accusations that have not only affected him but also the military's morale and compromised national security.

He will continue offering his suggestions to IDS program contractor CSBC Corp, Taiwan and the Navy as a civilian, Huang said.

(By Sean Lin and Matt Yu)

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