TAIPEI — The Ministry of National Defense has launched efforts to study the feasibility of building indigenous submarines, according to a statement released yesterday.
The ministry “is accurately reviewing the relevant plans and budgets” for a four-year project it brought to the National Defense Industrial Development Foundation late last year, based on a resolution by the Legislative Yuan that Taiwan should build its own submarines, the statement said.
Under the project, research will be conducted in four major fields — design, equipment acquisition, building capability and testing, the ministry said.
The Navy Command Headquarters will continue with research and assessment based on the need to support and promote the country’s defense technology development and provide relevant assistance, it went on.
The statement also noted that submarines are one of the most important items listed in Taiwan’s arm purchase plans with the United States. Currently, the U.S. is still reviewing at the interministerial level whether to sell the vessels to Taiwan, it said.
“No matter whether the issue is building submarines on our own or buying from foreign suppliers, we need U.S. support and assistance,” the ministry said, adding that it will continue to communicate with the U.S. on relevant matters.
The statement came after a local newspaper reported in its Tuesday edition that Taiwan has given up on plans to buy submarines from the U.S. after 12 years of delay, and has decided to launch an indigenous program.
In the preliminary plan, the Navy will use the National Defense Industrial Development Foundation, which has funds of NT$7 billion (US$236 million), as its resource base, the Liberty Times reported.
In addition, the Navy has planned a budget worth over NT$10 billion for its attempt to design, develop and build 1,000-2,000-ton submarines, the report said.
In 2001, then U.S. President George W. Bush’s administration offered to provide eight diesel-electric submarines to Taiwan. The contract, however, did not materialize due to political wrangling in the Legislative Yuan and interference from China, according to the report.
At present, Taiwan has four submarines — two aging U.S.-built Guppy-class ships used for training and two Sea-Dragon-class Dutch-made subs, both of which serve as the Navy’s main submarine battle force.