The Air Force Command Headquarters yesterday denied a media report about a weaponry deliverance issue.
The Chinese-language China Times yesterday cited a recent report by the Control Yuan’s National Audit Office as saying that procurements by the Ministry of National Defense of 12 P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft from the US cost US$1.96 billion and are under the operational command of the Air Force 439 Composite Wing unit.
The report said the US disagreed with a plan to have the aircraft carry ordinances, such as mines and depth charges, made by Taiwanese manufacturers.
“The US wants to reap more profit” from Taiwan by allowing the second-hand planes to carry only US-made ordinances,” the China Times said.
“The report was not correct. The planning and coordination for the P-3C weapons system is going according to schedule,” the air force said in a statement.
“Training on the aircraft has established their capabilities for anti-submarine warfare, and the planes are being incorporated into routine training programs,” the statement said.
An air force commander was quoted by the Central News Agency (CNA) as saying more time is needed to integrate and outfit the weapons system on the planes, “but it is not true that we are not permitted to carry certain types of ordinances. If this is the case, then why would we purchase them?”
Some work is needed to integrate the aircraft with the weapons system, but “most depth charges operate to only about 50m under water. Most submarines can quickly reach 100m, so depth charges are not all that effective,” the official said.
“The US does not use them much, and the Republic of China Air Force has plans to purchase additional weapons that will better fit our needs,” the official said.
Combined operations between the air force and the navy meant that if the planes detected enemy submarines, they would transmit locations to naval cruisers for them to carry out any missions, CNA quoted the official as saying.
In 2007, Washington agreed to sell Taiwan the aircraft, which were refurbished and outfitted with new avionics and electronic surveillance equipment.
The purchase of the P-3Cs is part of the ministry’s program to replace the air force’s aging fleet of 11 S-2T marine patrol planes that have been in service for more than 40 years.
The P-3C aircraft comes equipped with anti-submarine detection and tracking systems, including AN/ARR sonobuoy receivers, two AQA-7 directional acoustic frequency analysis and recording sonobuoy indicators, and a AQH-4 sonar tape recorder.