The military has commissioned experts to evaluate a plan for developing and building submarines, alongside efforts to purchase subs from the US, Minister of National Defense Yen Ming (嚴明) said yesterday.
Acquiring new submarines is a top priority of the military as part of its policy for dealing with asymmetric threats, Yen told a legislative hearing in Taipei.
The military will go ahead with the indigenous submarine plan if it is determined feasible by the experts, he said.
If the US also agrees to sell submarines to Taiwan, the military will seek further discussions with Washington about details of a partial technology transfer to help Taiwan’s submarine-building efforts, he added.
Technology, design plans and equipment are the main problems the nation will face in building indigenous models, he said.
The US government approved the sale of eight diesel-powered submarines to Taiwan in 2001, but no progress has been made on the project since then.
Nonetheless, Taiwan has managed to purchase a wide range of weapons from the US over the years, including submarine-launched Harpoon missiles, AH-64E Apache helicopters, P-3C marine-patrol aircraft and Patriot-3 anti-missile systems.
In a written report to the legislature, the defense ministry said it would continue to seek to buy defensive weapons from foreign countries that Taiwan is not capable of building on its own.
At the same time, it will work to enhance its ability to build weapons and equipment that are sensitive, crucial and difficult to obtain from other nations, it said.