Sat, Jul 13, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Paladin howitzer purchase planned

INNER BATTLE:The US in 2002 approved artillery sales to Taiwan, but procurement was delayed as the military could not decide between self-propelled or towed guns

By Lo Tien-pin and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Ministry of National Defense plans to buy more than 100 155mm M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers from the US for about NT$30 billion (US$965.2 million), a senior government official said yesterday.

While the ministry has not formally set a budget for the program, the Presidential Office and the Executive Yuan are expected to support the procurement, which would take place from next year to 2032, the official said on condition of anonymity.

The US Department of State on Tuesday approved a US$2.22 billion potential arms sale to Taiwan of 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks and Stinger missiles.

The army’s artillery park mainly consists of M109A2 and M109A5 systems, 8 inch M110A2 self-propelled howitzers and 155mm M114 howitzers, which are towed pieces, the official said.

These systems have exceeded their service life, they said, adding that the oldest weapon, the M114, has been in service for 68 years, while the youngest, the M109A5, has been in service for 21 years.

Currently fielded by the US military, the M109A6 can direct its own fire when necessary and put a shell on target within one minute of a call for fire support.

The military as early as 2002 recognized the need for new artillery pieces and then-US president George W. Bush approved the sale of Paladins to Taiwan, but complications delayed procurement for a decade, the official said.

At the time, the military was having an internal debate about whether it should obtain self-propelled or towed guns, while the other arms it wanted to buy crowded out the artillery’s share of the budget, they said.

Since then, the dispute had been resolved in favor of self-propelled guns and top officials have agreed on the size of the order, they added.

As the US introduces M109A7s, Taipei is to ask Washington to reserve some when the more advanced guns become available to Taiwan, the official said.

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