Fri, Oct 11, 2002 - Page 4 News List

Navy must wait to get second-hand AEGIS ships

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The navy is expected to get the first AEGIS-class fighting ship from the US in three years time at the earliest, but the ship will not be a new one, defense sources revealed yesterday.

The navy plans to buy a total of four AEGIS ships that are already in service with the US navy. It has chosen to buy second-hand ships to save time and money.

It is estimated that newly built AEGIS ships would be three times more expensive than used ones, and would take three times longer to deploy.

The used ships that the navy is likely to get from the US are early versions of the AEGIS class -- the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers. The first Ticonderoga-class cruiser (CG-47) was commissioned in 1983 and is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2018.

Ships of the class are not as good as later versions of the AEGIS class, but are still very powerful in their own right.

A high-ranking defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it is better not to reveal now what sort of AEGIS ships that the navy will get from the US.

"Taiwan has already reached an agreement with the US about the type of AEGIS ships that it is to buy. The agreement is to be announced sooner or later," the official said.

"Taiwan does not need to buy newly built AEGIS ships since it will cost much more money and take much more time for deployment. Besides, the US navy has the first priority to get new AEGIS ships," he said.

"If we buy used AEGIS ships, we will be able to get the first of these ships in three years at the earliest," he said.

"It is a good to get the AEGIS ships. But we worry that the navy might not be to get itself ready for the operation of the first AEGIS ships within three years," he said.

The defense official declined to confirm if the US' agreement to sell AEGIS ships to Taiwan might have anything to do with local legislators' objections to the navy's plan to buy four Kidd-class destroyers.

PFP Legislator Nelson Ku (顧崇廉), the navy's former commander-in-chief, is one of the lawmakers most strongly opposed to the Kidds purchase plan. He insisted that the navy should buy the AEGIS ships rather than the Kidds.

Ku, speaking at a meeting of the Legislature's Defense Committee on Monday, urged the Ministry of National Defense to push the US to sell the AEGIS ships to Taiwan.

"We do not need to wait for 10 years to get the AEGIS ships. If we buy second-hand AEGIS ships, we will be able to get them much sooner," Ku said.

"According to my understanding, the US will sell only used AEGIS ships to Taiwan. If so, what is the meaning of waiting for 10 years for second-hand ships?"

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