Sat, May 18, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Legislators express reservations about purchase of Kidds

THE RUB Lawmakers said maintaining the Kidd-class destroyers will be expensive and that AEGIS-equipped ships would be better

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties joined hands yesterday to call on the military not to buy Kidd-class destroyers, suggesting instead the AEGIS-equipped destroyer as the substitute.

The lawmakers, led by ex-navy commander-in-chief retired admiral Nelson Ku (顧崇廉) of the PFP, said the Kidds would be no match for China's new battleships and that only the AEGIS could counter threats from the Chinese navy.

They suggested that the military include the AEGIS-equipped destroyers in the list of priority military hardware to be purchased and deployed over the next 10 years.

The suggestion was jointly made by defense committee members Ku, Chen Chung-hsin (陳忠信) of the DPP and Lin Nan-sheng (林南生) of the KMT.

The lawmakers yesterday called a press conference at the legislature to express their views on the military's purchase plans for the next decade. They spent most of the time explaining why they are against the Kidd purchase.

"Most of the lawmakers of the defense committee think the Kidd is not what the navy wants and that the navy plans to buy the ship mainly because of influence from the US military," Ku said.

"We do not think too much of the Kidd purchase plan. Take the price for instance. Although the four Kidds the navy plans to buy look inexpensive, the whole deal will not be cost-effective in the long run if the follow-up repairs and maintenance are taken into consideration," he said.

"We suggest the Ministry of National Defense (MND) buy the AEGIS-class destroyer instead of the Kidds. We know the MND is making efforts in that direction. We want them to work harder," he said.

"But the AEGIS purchase efforts should not be made at the expense of building plans for three types of new naval vessels displacing 120 tonnes, 500 tonnes, to 1,000 tonnes," he said.

Ku also urged the navy to negotiate with the US over the possibility of having an eighth Chengkung-class frigate, modeled on the US-made Perry-class frigate, built in Taiwan by the state-run China Shipbuilding Corp (CSBC).

"The US agreed 10 years ago to provide the technology and equipment for the construction of the eighth Chengkung ship, which would be modified as a smaller-sized AEGIS. Now the navy is ready to revive the construction plan for the eighth Chengkung.

"We hope the MND will try its best to persuade the US to have the ship built in Taiwan," Ku said.

The navy now has seven Chengkung-class frigates in service, which were built by the CSBC. An eighth ship of the class, to be modified as a smaller-size AEGIS destroyer, was initially planned to be built shortly after the completion of the previous seven but the construction plan was cancelled for reasons the navy did not want to reveal.

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