The Executive Yuan supports the Ministry of National Defense’s request to buy US-made M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks, a high-ranking defense official confirmed yesterday.
The ministry decided to purchase 108 of the tanks for two armored battalions under the Sixth Army Corps stationed in northern Taiwan, after it turned down the army’s request to buy 500 tanks, the official said on condition of anonymity.
The new tanks are to replace some of the M60A3 Patton and CM-11 Brave Tiger tanks in service, he said, adding that the Executive Yuan has earmarked about NT$30 billion (US$9.87 billion) for the purchase.
Earlier yesterday, the Chinese-language China Times cited an anonymous source as saying that the government has decided to buy M1A2 tanks and that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) backs the idea.
The government is to buy “about 100” tanks to equip two battalions, with the training of a seed cadre and a five-year supply of spare parts included in the package, the report said.
The budget covers only the initial cost, as the US opens production lines next year, the report said, adding that the delivery of the contract is likely to carry a substantially higher cost.
The tank purchase is only a part of the army’s plan to replace the vehicles, weapons and other equipment that have been in service for more than 25 years, the defense official said.
The army’s budget proposal, titled “the Follow-up Plan for the Procurement of Important New Combat Systems for the Army,” called for the acquisition of tanks, mobile air defense systems, anti-tank guided missiles, self-propelled mortars and 155mm howitzers, armored troop carriers, tracked recovery vehicles and rifles, he said.
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