Asia is in the midst of a submarine “buying spree” with most of the major powers planning substantial fleet increases over the next 20 years, new analysis published by the independent US Naval Institute concluded.
However, the analysis says that Taiwan has been trying to buy new submarines, but has been unable to find producing countries that are willing to “defy” political pressure from Beijing and make the sale.
“The only potential provider of submarines, the United States, does not build diesel-electric submarines,” it says.
The analysis by military writer Kyle Mizokami says that Vietnam took delivery of a new submarine last week, Malaysia recently acquired its first and that Thailand plans to buy one soon.
Asian countries are buying submarines to “protect their recently acquired wealth,” while another “more ominous driver” is the recent uptick in territorial disputes involving China.
The analysis comes as Washington defense writer Bill Gertz has published an article in The Washington Free Beacon claiming that China is testing a high-speed maneuvering torpedo that poses a threat to submarines.
Gertz said that one test was conducted near the South China Sea’s Hainan Island where China’s Type 094 attack submarines are based.
China is reportedly building at least seven classes of new submarines and warships, more than any other nation except the US, Gertz said.
A new report to be published later this month by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission says that Taipei is considering designing and manufacturing its own submarines “with US and possibly other foreign technical assistance.”
The report says that Taiwanese officials continue to stress to the commission the importance of acquiring submarines.
“During the Commission’s recent trip to Taiwan, officials emphasized that Taiwan’s ability to defend its forces against China’s expanding and modernizing submarine fleet will continue to erode as its aging submarine force increasingly is unable to support Taiwanese Navy antisubmarine training,” the report says.
Taiwan’s current fleet of four submarines includes two former US vessels that were built in the 1940s and transferred to Taiwan in the 1970s.