Minister of National Defense Kao Hua-chu (高華柱) yesterday dismissed reports that the government could spend up to NT$1 trillion (US$31 billion) on arms procurement by 2020.
“We hope there will be no regrets in our arms procurement. We have to make a list of weapons according to our defense needs,” the minister said when fielding questions from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lii Ming-shing (李明星) on the legislative floor.
“We need to make an accurate evalution of the priority of weapons our forces need so that we can make a request for the right budget for national defense,” he said.
“However, it would be impossible for the figure to hit NT$1 trillion,” Kao said, without naming an exact figure.
Kao was responding to a story published by the Chinese-language "United Daily News" on Monday that quoted anonymous sources as saying that a study commissioned by the Ministry of National Defense's (MND) Office of Integrated Evaluation to the US think tank RAND Corp showed that Taiwan needed to spend NT$1 trillion purchasing more than 100 types of weapons by 2020 to meet its defense needs.
The media report said the “dream list” of weapons suggested by the think tank included advanced F-16C/D fighter aircraft, third-generation fighter jets, aerial tankers, diesel-electric-powered submarines, inshore patrol craft and landing ship docks. The story quoted unidentified sources as saying that the MND would begin to include budget requests for the suggested procurement in 2011 at the earliest.
Kao said the RAND report was “simply an academic evaluation [report].”
The nation’s arms procurement priority remained unchanged, he said.
“We are trying hard to procure F-16C/D fighter jets, diesel-powered submarines, two Patriot-3 missile systems and general purpose helicopters. These four items of weapons are on our priority list,” Kao said.
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