Thu, Apr 06, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Submarine upgrade program to benefit shipbuilding

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan is to draw on the experience of an ongoing program to upgrade two of its aging submarines to support a project to build its own submarines, an institute contracted to conduct the programs said yesterday.

Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology officials said in a report prepared for a legislative hearing yesterday that the institute has completed an evaluation of periscope upgrades for the two Chien Lung-class submarines and has begun reviewing a design to upgrade their weapons systems.

That experience will help support the Ministry of National Defense’s indigenous submarine project, the report said.

The report said the institute is discussing a design for the weapons systems of the planned homegrown submarines and other issues with shipbuilder CSBC Corp, Taiwan — the contractor for the nation’s indigenous submarine and the navy’s submarine programs.

A total of NT$2.9 billion (US$95.45 million) is to be budgeted from December last year to December 2020 for the design of the vessels, a ministry report to the legislature on the indigenous submarine and jet trainer programs showed.

Military officials said at yesterday’s hearing that the local submarine program aims to build eight vessels and will still need assistance and technologies from the US.

CSBC said the first indigenous submarine can be built in eight years and enter service with the navy in 10 years after its design is completed.

CSBC chairman Cheng Wen-lon (鄭文隆) said the company, after the completion of the first submarine, could produce one submarine every four years.

Late last month, CSBC and the institute signed a memorandum of understanding with the navy to jointly build submarines for the military.

The first homegrown submarines are to be built within eight years and would be able to be commissioned into service within a decade, the shipbuilder said.

As for the program to upgrade the two Chien Lung-class submarines Taiwan purchased from the Netherlands in the 1980s, the institute said in its report that it would refer to the designs of weapons systems on other naval ships and enlist the help of foreign defense companies to extend the life of the aging submarines.

The program would also rely primarily on domestically manufactured components in an attempt to boost the nation’s defense industry, the report said.

Taiwan has long tried to acquire submarines from other nations with little success because of reluctance to upset China.

Then-US president George W. Bush in 2001 authorized the sale of eight diesel electric submarines to Taiwan, but the deal never came to fruition because of political wrangling in Taiwan and questions over whether the US, which did not produce conventional submarines at the time, could supply the vessels.

Taiwan has four submarines, including two World War II-era boats purchased from the US in the 1970s.

As for the indigenous advanced jet trainer program, designs for the aircraft’s exterior and interior have been completed and an initial review of the design of the aircraft is scheduled for next month, the institute’s report said.

The ministry has allocated a 12-year budget of NT$68.6 billion to build 66 jet trainers, with the first prototype scheduled to be completed by September 2019, the first trial flight to be conducted by June 2020 and the whole fleet of 66 airplanes to be delivered by 2026.

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