The budget for fiscal year 2019 to build a fleet of 60 missile-equipped 45-tonne fast-attack craft was yesterday cut by NT$200 million (US$6.48 million), from an initial NT$468 million, with lawmakers from across party lines saying that the navy should be more practical in its planning.
The funding cut came after a review of the navy’s budget by the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.
At the committee’s meeting, Navy Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Lee Tsung-hsiao (李宗孝) said that design and testing of the fast-attack craft would begin next year, while preparations to produce the first four would not begin until 2021.
The production of new ships should depend on current needs, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said.
The navy has yet to provide a prototype for testing and simulation as it did with the earlier Tuo Jiang-class corvette, Chiang said, adding that the navy should not propose budgets for mass production without a prototype for trials and environmental tests.
The navy cannot guarantee that the total cost to produce the 60 vessels would be capped at the planned NT$31.6 billion, as it has not performed design and testing, the committee said.
Asked by KMT Legislator Ma Wen-chun (馬文君) how the navy would staff the vessels, Lee said that it would undergo a structural adjustment of personnel.
Following the retirement of ships from the amphibious landing branch, as well as minesweepers, the navy would have an excess of personnel to crew the new vessels, he said.
Unlike the Guang Hua VI fast-attack missile boat, the new vessels would conduct missions in various sea zones, he added.
Mass production plans would only be approved after the navy has conducted testing, the committee said.
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