Mon, Feb 27, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Ministry denies plan to buy German submarines

By Rich Chang  /  Staff Reporter

The Ministry of National Defense yesterday denied a magazine report saying Taiwan plans to procure four German-made -diesel-electric submarines that were originally intended for Greece.

The Hong Kong-based Chinese-language magazine, Asian Week, reported in its latest edition that Greece had ordered four Type 214 diesel-electric submarines from German company Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW), but because Greece was struggling to save itself from bankruptcy and was unable to pay for the submarines, HDW planned to sell them to Taiwan.

The report said HDW would otherwise face bankruptcy.

The ministry yesterday released a statement denying the report.

The ministry said Taiwan has been seeking to acquire diesel--electric submarines through an arms sale from the US. It would be a government-to-government procurement, the ministry added.

According to the Asian Week report, HDW officials in October secretly visited Taipei to discuss selling the four Type 214 submarines to Taiwan and that the military showed interest in the sale.

The report said the military told HDW officials that if the submarines did not cost more than US$800 -million each, if the company could promise between 10 and 20 years of logistics maintenance and if the company represented Taiwan to negotiate with the US and the US agreed to the arms sale, Taiwan would procure the submarines.

The report added that HDW had officially informed the US about the proposal.

The Type 214 is a diesel-electric submarine developed by HDW. It features diesel propulsion with an air-independent propulsion system using Siemens polymer electrolyte membrane hydrogen fuel cells.

The Asian Week report said the Type 214 was one of most advanced diesel-electric submarines in the world and could meet Taiwan’s defense requirements.

In 2001, former US president George W. Bush’s administration offered to provide eight diesel-electric submarines to Taiwan for about US$12 billion.

The deal did not materialize due to political wrangling in Taiwan’s legislature, moves by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the US to appease Beijing amid efforts at cross-strait reconciliation and pressure from China on Washington.

Military experts have said the ministry had given up on acquiring submarines from the US and had decided to launch an indigenous program with foreign assistance.

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