Sat, Jul 23, 2016 - Page 1 News List

US shipments of vehicles delayed

By Luo Tien-pin and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Amphibious assault vehicles drive onto a beach during a drill in Pingtung on Sept. 10 last year.

Photo: Tsai Tsung-hsien, Taipei Times

Deliveries of US amphibious assault vehicles have been delayed, with supplier the US military citing technical difficulties.

In a bid to improve the nation’s amphibious assault capabilities, 36 AAV-7A1s were purchased from the US, with the first shipment to arrive in the second half of this year and the remainder to be received by the end of 2019.

Sources said that even though payment for the first shipment has been sent, the vehicles are to be delayed until 2020.

One source said the military has been in contact with the US in an attempt to resolve the situation, expressing concern that LVTP-5 amphibious vehicles in service have exceeded their useful life and that continued use would compromise Taiwan’s amphibious assault capabilities, but the US has remained resolute in its position.

The US cited technical difficulties for the delay, saying that it is waiting on other orders.

Military officials said they had settled the issue with the US in 2013, adding that the delay might be because of a political issue.

“The AAV-7A1 plays a pivotal role in modern amphibious warfare. Whether in defense of the perimeter of the Pratas Islands [Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島] or Itu Aba Island [Taiping Island, 太平島], in a mission to safeguard Taiwan’s southern coast or the outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu, or even in conducting rescue missions following major natural disasters, the AAV-7A1 plays a crucial role,” the source said.

“Delaying shipment of the 36 vehicles will be a major blow to the military’s ability to maintain combat readiness,” the source said.

Navy Command Headquarters yesterday said that “because the US has to conform to a production schedule that allows it to complete several orders simultaneously, shipments will be postponed.”

The navy said that the shipment would be accomplished in two installments, with 24 units arriving in 2020 and the remainder in 2021, adding that it would make amendments to its investment network because of the delay.

The navy has used the LVTP-5 in amphibious landing exercises, but as the vehicles are beyond their service lifespan, finding replacement parts has become increasingly difficult.

In 2006, the navy commissioned the US to produce 54 AAV-7A1s to replace its outdated fleet.

A military official said that although it has already procured 54 AAV-7A1s, that is far from its target, which is to procure 36 more.

The navy plans to use four of the AAV-7A1s as command vehicles, while two are to be assigned for use in disaster relief operations.

The official said the 36 vehicles cost NT$5.3 billion (US$165.26 million), with the purchase contract signed by both sides on May 12 and funds transferred on June 24.

“It was completely unexpected that the US would suddenly announce a three-and-a-half-year delay. The sudden, unexpected nature of the decision was a great shock to the military — we are unable to accept this turn of events,” the official said.

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