The navy is to allocate NT$470 billion (US$14.57 billion) for 12 shipbuilding projects over a 22-year period, Navy Command Headquarters Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Mei Chia-shu (梅家樹) said yesterday.
The navy will first focus on building a new model of amphibious transport dock, high-speed mine-laying ships and a Tuo Jiang-class corvette next year, said Mei, who gave the figure for the 2018 to 2040 proposal, described as a rough estimate, at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee.
He said that contract designs for the new amphibious transport dock are to be finalized this year, to be followed by those for the high-speed mine-laying vessels and the Tuo Jiang-class ships — the nation’s first domestically developed stealth missile corvette.
Spending on these related projects is estimated at NT$60 billion from now through 2025, he said.
Mei was answering questions from Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), who expressed concern about which vessels would be given priority on the agenda of the navy’s mega-program to build locally developed warships.
Chiang’s questions came as the navy was set to make public 12 major warship-building projects at an investment conference in Taipei later yesterday, as part of its efforts to demonstrate the nation’s resolve to build its own ships and to attract greater investment ahead of the first-ever International Maritime and Defense Expo, which is scheduled to be held in Kaohsiung from Sept. 14 to Sept. 17.
Local media have reported that the navy is hoping to build six to eight Aegis-equipped destroyers to replace its aging Kidd-class fleet.
Washington agreed to sell Taiwan eight diesel-electric submarines in 2001, but the deal has not been completed, as the US has not built diesel-electric submarines since 1959.
Since 2001, developing locally built warships has been a hotly debated issue in the face of increasing military enhancement efforts by other countries in the region.
It is difficult for Taiwan to acquire submarines from other countries due to Chinese obstruction.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on June 4 reaffirmed her goal of pushing for a self-reliant national defense force, when she boarded a domestically built warship off Yilan County.
“In addition to enhancing naval combat capacity, it will help the development of the shipbuilding and machinery sectors, as well as system integration,” she said.
“The government will continue to promote the policy of building its own vessels,” Taiwan Shipbuilding Industry Association chairman Han Pi-hsiang (韓碧祥) said on Sunday.
Han added that he welcomes the government policy and estimated that it would push the sector’s annual production value to NT$70 billion.
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