A US congressman has written to US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel calling for the sale of diesel-electric submarines to Taiwan.
“Small submarines in particular would provide a credible, survivable deterrent, while playing a potentially critical role in defending against an amphibious invasion,” Democrat Robert Andrews said.
A founding member of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, Andrews said that as part of its long-term military expansion, China had added dozens of attack submarines to its fleet since 1995.
Its main objective in building the submarine force, was limiting the US’ ability to intervene in a Taiwan contingency, Andrews said.
Taiwan currently operates only two submarines that are deployable in a combat scenario.
In 2001, then-US president George Bush approved Taiwan’s request for the sale of eight diesel-electric submarines as part of a US$12 billion arms sales package.
However, the sale remains “pending” with no action being taken.
“Taiwan must maintain a sufficient self-defense force in order to engage with the PRC [People’s Republic of China] from a position of strength,” Andrews said in his letter.
“In the face of an adversary with seemingly endless resources, a modest number of additional, updated submarines would form an indispensable part of the Taiwan navy’s credible deterrence capability by significantly enhancing its capability for sea control and denial,” Andrews said.
He has asked Hagel how the US could support Taiwan’s acquisition of diesel-electric submarines, including export control considerations, technical assistance and other export licensing.
In addition, Andrews urged the Pentagon to “permit and encourage” US companies to support Taiwan’s establishment of an indigenous submarine program.
He suggested that the Department of Defense could form “product teams” to determine what technologies Taiwan will require.