Mon, May 14, 2018 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: MND sees defense self-sufficiency as priority

The Ministry of National Defense sees the rapid build-up of the military’s operational capabilities as its top priority and would like to see efforts to create a self-sufficient defense industry receive more funding than the procurement of US arms, Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa said in an interview with Liberty Times’ (sister newspaper of the Taipei Times) staff reporters Aaron Tu, Huang Wei-chu and Lo Tien-pin

Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa gestures during an interview in Taipei on May 2.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Liberty Times (LT): Has the country officially requested the US to sell F-35 jets and M1 tanks?

Yen De-fa (嚴德發): The air force’s operational requirements dictate that the next generation of fighters must possess stealth characteristics, be short take-off capable and be able to fight beyond visual range. The F-35 is a fine fighter and we are seeking it.

To answer the question as to whether we have formally requested the F-35 from the US, although we have been holding dialogues with US officials, they have not reached a definitive conclusion. US officials are evaluating it, and they might have their own concerns over its high cost or other considerations.

However, I can confirm that negotiations are ongoing.

Our nation’s new strategic doctrine is strong defense and layered deterrence. Military history is clear in that land warfare continues to be the decisive form of combat. We need to re-establish our ability to deter on the ground. The combat power of tanks is crucial toward that end.

Outside critics have questioned whether tanks would be impeded by terrain factors. However, those concerns have already been more than adequately addressed by armed forces’ established procedure for the operational deployment of tanks.

After completing the evaluation of this procurement proposal, we will officially make a request to the US. Overall, our plan is to make arms sales and technological transfers pave the way toward achieving self-sufficiency in national defense.

For instance, the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology has developed the Thunderbolt-2000 multiple-launch rocket system and precision-guided munitions to provide asymmetric warfare capabilities. Arms sales should fill gaps in the capabilities of a nation’s defense industry; the rest of our weapons should be furnished via a self-sufficient national defense industry that is supplemented by technology transfers in key areas.

LT: The navy’s most important procurement objective is to have an indigenously designed and built submarine. What is the status of the project?

Yen: The US government’s decision to approve marketing licenses for submarine technology is a boon to our nation. It represents a major breakthrough and it has greatly aided our efforts toward integration.

As a result of this breakthrough, we estimate that the contract design phase for the submarine program will be completed by 2020. The program’s progress has been on track.

In addition, the navy’s other programs — entering the Tuo Jiang-class corvette into mass production and developing a next-generation guided missile frigate — are very beneficial to the goal of a self-sufficient defense industry.

The armed forces’ highest-priority policy is defense self-sufficiency. The policy is comprised of indigenous warships, indigenous jets and the creation of information and communications capabilities. We are pursuing those tasks with seriousness and vigor.

At the moment, defense self-sufficiency and arms sales claim about equal portions of the defense budget and resources. I hope to see the former exceed the later.

The aim of defense self-sufficiency is to avoid over-reliance on foreign military aid and to build our own strength. It does not behoove us to expect help from others in a crisis.

Another important objective for defense self-sufficiency is to stimulate domestic industries. As President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has said, the defense industry is playing a crucial role in fueling the expansion of domestic demand.

This story has been viewed 10124 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top