The first two Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates purchased by Taiwan from the US are expected to be delivered in 2015, Navy Chief of Staff Kao Tien-chung (高天忠) said yesterday.
The two warships, which cost NT$5.2 billion (US$175 million), are to replace two Knox-class frigates, whose condition is the worst in the entire fleet, Kao said during a hearing of the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign and National Defense Committee.
The ships are part of an order of four Perry-class frigates that the US government has agreed to sell to Taiwan, he said.
On Wednesday, the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs unanimously agreed to introduce legislation that would authorize the sale of the four frigates — the USS Taylor (FFG-50), USS Gary (FFG-51), USS Carr (FFG-52) and USS Elrod (FFG-55) — to Taiwan.
The four warships were commissioned between 1984 and 1985 and, except for the USS Gary, which was decommissioned in March, are all in active service.
Kao added that between 2015 and 2018, Taiwan would design and build its own salvage ship prototype and another amphibious warfare ship.
The navy is also planning to buy 36 used AAV-7 assault amphibious vehicles from the US.
With its river-crossing ability, the AAV-7 will help strengthen the mobility and expeditionary capabilities of the marine corps, he said.
However, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) questioned the necessity of the purchases, given that the military already has 54 AAV-7s.
Equipped with 50-caliber machine guns and 40mm automatic grenades, the AAV-7 is not powerful enough and does not necessarily have better mobility than wheeled armored vehicles, Lin said.
He suggested that the military consider acquiring more Taiwan-made Yunpao CM-32 eight-wheeled armored vehicles to meet its needs.