The military expects to receive the first shipment of M1A2T Abrams tanks from the US by 2023, but would send personnel to the US to undergo training and accept the tanks in 2022, Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發) told a legislative meeting yesterday.
The Ministry of National Defense would know the exact dates when it receives the letter of offer and acceptance early next month, he said.
The Legislative Yuan last year approved a budget of NT$40.5 billion (US$1.3 billion) for 108 M1A2T tanks.
The most recent budget submitted by the ministry showed that it plans to order 18 of the new tanks in 2022, 18 in 2023, 28 in 2024, 30 in 2025 and the remaining 14 in 2026.
At yesterday’s meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) asked ministry officials about how the M1A2T compares with tanks used by Japan, South Korea, China and other countries in the region.
Army Chief of Staff Yang Hai-ming (楊海明) said that the M1A2T is more capable than South Korea’s K2 Black Panther, Japan’s Type 10 and China’s Type 99, their main battle tanks.
For amphibious assaults, China relies on lighter tanks, such as its Type 63A, which have even less firepower than the Type 99, he said.
Asked by Tsai about the M1A2T’s fuel, Yang said that it can use either aviation fuel or diesel, adding that the army is considering using diesel.
Asked whether roads in Taiwan can support the weight of the M1A2T, at more than 60 tonnes, Yang said that they could.
Additional reporting by CNA
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