The US might sell state-of-the-art AEGIS-equipped destroyers to Taiwan if the nation buys older Kidd-class ships, according to Jane's Defence Weekly.
In an article to be published on March 6, Jane's says Taiwan's purchase of four Kidd-class destroyers from the US -- part of an arms package offered to Taipei in April -- is essential for its future procurement of destroyers equipped with the AEGIS radar system. A US Department of Defense source told the weekly that if Taiwan does not buy the Kidd-class destroyers, the US cannot justify selling AEGIS-equipped vessels.
"The Kidds represent a stepping-stone for Taiwan towards the eventual procurement of an AEGIS-class platform," the military magazine quotes the source as saying.
The source adds that Taiwan must first prove it can satisfactorily integrate and operate the sophisticated radar and weapons systems provided by the Kidd-class destroyers before the US is satisfied it can handle the more advanced AEGIS platform.
Alternatively, Taiwan could acquire one of the US Navy's older AEGIS-equipped Arleigh Burke-class destroyers that would be nearing the end of its service after 2010, according to the source.
Taiwan is expected to receive a delivery of the first two Kidd-class destroyers from the US by 2005, the weekly says.
US President George W. Bush in April last year announced the most comprehensive arms package to Taiwan for almost a decade, including the four Kidd-class destroyers, eight diesel submarines and 12 P-3C submarine-hunting aircraft.