The Ministry of National Defense (MND) budget for the next fiscal year, which was submitted to the legislature on Wednesday, shows that a total of NT$15 billion (US$518 million) out of NT$86.6 billion would be allocated for countermeasure weapons systems, the highest level since 2000.
The budget estimate stands at NT$86.6 billion, a NT$4.9 billion increase from last year, with most of the funds allotted to acquiring domestically made weapons systems such as the Hsiung Feng-IIE (HF-2E) subsonic and the HF-3 supersonic anti-ship missiles, as well as purchasing weapons from the US.
The purchase of AH-64D Longbow Apache helicopters, UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters, P-3C Orion marine patrol aircraft, -submarine-launched Harpoon missiles, Osprey-class coastal mine-hunters, upgrades to the Patriot-II systems and the purchase of the Patriot Advanced Capability-III (PAC-3) air defense systems, upgrades to E-2T Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft and F-16A/Bs was estimated to cost NT$40 billion, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said.
That represents 47 percent of total military investment for next year, he said.
Lin said that while the total cost for all upgrades to the F-16A/Bs stood at NT$110 billion, only NT$2.8 billion would be allotted for the project next year, adding that the ministry and Air Force Command only completed the investment plan summary and work schedule on Aug. 18 and Aug. 22 after the US informed Taiwan of its decision to proceed with the program.
The ministry designated the first payment for the F-16A/B an urgent military equipment requirement, Lin said, adding that this was the first time since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office that he had allotted military purchasing funds using such reasoning.
Lin said funding for the purchase of the 66 F-16C/Ds requested by Taiwan since 2007 stood at NT$2 million and that the preliminary evaluation for diesel-powered submarines was only NT$500,000, both of which were allotted funds on a minimal operational cost basis.
The ministry’s research budget of NT$3.6 billion, represented a NT$2.6 billion, or 42 percent, decrease from last year, he said.
This would have a negative impact on indigenous systems research, Lin said.
Sources have said the size of countermeasure weapons systems acquisitions for the Navy, Air Force and Missile Command Center would greatly increase next year and was the reason the budget for domestically produced systems had been cut.
The three major indigenous programs are the HF-3 anti-ship missiles, with a budget of NT$1.2 billion, the Ji Zhun (戟隼) plan for the HF-2E surface-to-surface missile, with a budget of NT$3 billion and upgrades to the Indigenous Defence Fighter (IDF) combat aircraft, at NT$11.4 billion, for a total of NT$15 billion, or 20 percent of the NT$86.6 billion total.
This is the most spent on indigenous countermeasure weapons systems since 2000, Lin said.
Translated by Jake Chung, Staff writer
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