The last of Taiwan’s order of 12 Lockheed P-3C Orion aircraft is expected to be delivered in July, a Ministry of National Defense official said.
The US-made aircraft is to be unveiled at a ceremony that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) is expected to attend, the official said on condition of anonymity.
The Chinese submarine fleet is large and equipped with high-tech weaponry, so a three-pronged counterattack from air, sea and undersea units and modern submarines would be essential to prevail in a military conflict, the official said.
The Orion aircraft are to be the backbone of the nation’s marine patrol warfare capability, the official said.
The first aircraft was delivered in September 2013 and was operational by July 2014, and has been used as a training platform, he said.
“The delivery of the final P-3C will mark a new chapter in our aerial anti-submarine forces,” the official said.
As a component of the arms package, the US is to assist Taiwan in creating a “maritime mission support center,” that would enable direct ground support for air patrols and the establishment of real-time situational awareness over the sea, the official said.
The center would mark fundamental changes in the way the air force deploys multi-role marine patrol aircraft, he said.
In related news, the air force had planned to scrap a fleet of Grumman S-2 Tracker marine-patrol aircraft, but a recent internal assessment reversed the decision and decided to keep some in service, sources said.
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