Wed, Nov 01, 2006 - Page 3 News List

MND defends efforts to win arms deal

MISFIRE The ministry said it had done everything that it could to convince lawmakers to support the arms procurement deal, but that politicking had scuttled its efforts

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ministry of National Defense said yesterday that it had done everything it could to stress the importance of a proposal to procure three major weapons systems from the US, but it could not do anything when leaders placed politics above national security.

"We did everything to explain. We briefed lawmakers more than 100 times, visited legislators' offices more than 2,500 times. Unfortunately, this issue is still being used as a political token," ministry spokesman Rear Admiral Wu Chi-fang (吳季方) told a press conference -- the first held by the ministry in months.

Wu said the military would continue trying to persuade the legislature to approve the proposal as soon as possible.

At the press conference, the navy showed slides of the sailors who were had been assigned to help refurbish and deliver two Kidd-class destroyers from the US.

"Hereby, I can tell you that I am very proud of my fellow sailors, because they finished something within three years that generally takes 13 years," Rear Admiral Pu Tze-chun (蒲澤春), commander of the Kidd-class destroyer contingent.

"In addition, we only spent NT$150 million [US$4.5 million] for each vessel, while we would have spent NT$310 million for each if we had bought them 20 years ago," Pu said.

"We spent the least money for the strongest forces that we expected. I think we should give ourselves a pat on the back," the admiral said.

In the slides, the navy showed before and after pictures of the destroyers, which will be officially commissioned tomorrow.

When the ships were sold to Taiwan three years ago, they were in dire need of refurbishing, with rusty propellers, gun mounts, ladders and interior, according to the slides.

Three years later, Taiwanese sailors and their US counterparts were able to completely make over the vessels.

"We tested 500 points, which are the most fragile on the ship, before we got them put back to sea. The test results were satisfactory. No problems at all," Pu said.

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