Sat, Dec 02, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Tsai vows to improve nation’s defenses

DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENT:The president praised an advanced jet trainer program and reiterated the government’s commitment to building indigenous submarines

Staff writer, with CNA

President Tsai Ing-wen, right, waves during a military ceremony at Pingtung Airbase yesterday.

Photo: CNA

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday at a military ceremony reiterated her resolve to build strong self-defense capabilities for Taiwan.

“Building a capable self-defense will make our military and nation even stronger,” Tsai said, as she presided over a ceremony at Pingtung Airbase to mark the commissioning of 12 P-3C Orion maritime surveillance planes and the decommissioning of the fleet of 11 S-2T Trackers.

The 12 P-3Cs, acquired from the US for US$1.9 billion in 2007, are to replace the aging S-2T maritime patrol aircraft that have been in service for more than 40 years, and are expected to boost the nation’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities, the base said.

Seen as playing an essential role in anti-submarine warfare and in defending Taiwan from China, the aircraft are equipped with torpedoes and depth charges designed to sink fast, deep-diving nuclear submarines and high-performance surface vessels.

The new fleet could help the nation counter the threat of submarines and gain naval supremacy in safeguarding Taiwan, Tsai said.

She also praised a project to produce advanced jet fighter training aircraft as part of the government’s efforts to develop a local defense industry.

In April, the Ministry of National Defense launched the NT$68.6 billion (US$2.29 billion) program that aims to build 66 locally developed advanced jet trainers by 2026, with the first one scheduled to deploy in 2020.

“The plan to build locally developed advanced jet trainers has been faring smoothly and will be carried out as scheduled, with the first completed jet trainer to take off in 2020,” Tsai said.

“As the commander-in-chief of the nation’s military, it is my unwavering mission to build a strong and capable army,” she said, adding that the government remains committed to building submarines in Taiwan despite recent frustrations, referring to a scandal related to a local firm contracted to build minesweepers for the navy.

Ching Fu Shipbuilding Co (慶富造船) won the NT$34.9 billion contract to build six minesweepers for the navy in October 2014.

The firm is under investigation for trying to secure a NT$20.5 billion syndicated loan from a group of domestic banks, allegedly by using bogus documents to falsify four capital increments that made it eligible to receive the loan.

A total of 18 former and acting navy officers last week received a wide range of punishments, from demerits to admonitions, for failing to confirm that Ching Fu had the requisite financial and manufacturing ability before awarding the contract to the company and failing to monitor the execution of the contract.

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