The Pentagon has confirmed that Taiwan’s request for a diesel submarine “design and feasibility study” is still under review and that no decision has yet been made.
“The Department of Defense will continue to consider carefully any Taiwan requests for defense articles and services,” US Under Secretary of Defense James Miller said.
“To date, Taiwan has not submitted any requests for technical assistance or export licensing support pertaining to a submarine program,” Miller said in a letter to US Representative Robert Andrews.
He was replying to a letter sent last month by Andrews asking what the US could do to support Taiwan’s acquisition of diesel-electric submarines.
Andrews, a New Jersey Democrat, asked about export control considerations for technical assistance and other export licensing in support of a Taiwan submarine program.
In 2001, then-US president George W. Bush authorized the sale of eight diesel submarines to Taiwan, but Taipei took no action until 2008 when it submitted a request to conduct a feasibility study.
Only two of Taiwan’s four submarines are now in operational condition and there is considerable support in the US Congress for Washington to assist Taiwan in expanding its submarine force.
Miller said in his letter that the Pentagon continues to work with the Ministry of Defense to determine what “defense articles best support its ability to deter aggression” from China.
“I am committed to consulting with Congress on these issues, as well as on our overall strategy for assisting Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability,” Miller said.
Commenting on the letter, Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) president Mark Kao (高龍榮) said that the urgency to transfer modern diesel-electric submarines to Taiwan had intensified over the last decade.
“As the US requested, Taiwan’s government approved full funding for an American diesel submarine feasibility study in January 2008, but in over five years since then, the Pentagon still has not made a decision whether even to conduct the study,” Kao said.
FAPA, which represents Taiwanese Americans, said it is urging the Legislative Yuan to “inquire immediately about the government’s current plans for the acquisition of a modern defensive submarine fleet and urge them to sit down with Washington to work out an arrangement.”