The US this year began delivery of submarine-launched harpoon missiles, the Ministry of National Defense said in a report to the Legislative Yuan earlier this week.
The anti-ship cruise missiles are to become operational on Taiwan’s two Dutch-built combat-capable submarines, the report stated.
The NT$5.87 billion (US$195.46 million) arms procurement deal, which was signed in 2008 and is to be finalized in 2016, aims to extend the nation’s undersea strike capability, the ministry said.
The deal reportedly includes 32 UGM-84L submarine-launched Harpoon Block II missiles along with two UTM-84L exercise missiles and two weapons control systems, according to media reports.
The supersonic sea-skimming missiles, which have a range of about 125km, would bring targets along the Chinese coast within range, media reports said.
The ministry’s report outlined its plans to upgrade all three of the nation’s Patriot-II anti-missile batteries and purchase three Patriot III batteries worth more than NT$179 billion between 2007 and 2021.
Two of the three batteries have recently been upgraded, the report said.
The upgrading of the Patriot anti-missile batteries is expected to improve the nation’s capability to fend off a ballistic missile attack by China, it added.
Meanwhile, the nation has also begun taking delivery of new fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft along with attack and utility helicopters.
The ministry’s report said US$7.6 billion worth of new equipment and aircraft designed to strengthen Taiwan’s defense has begun filling its arsenals this year.
The list includes 12 refurbished Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, 30 Boeing AH-64E Apache Longbow attack helicopters and 60 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters.
Three P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and six Apache attack helicopters have already been delivered, while the UH-60M utility helicopters are set to arrive in November next year, the report said.
Looking ahead, the ministry said Taiwan could face more hurdles in procuring advanced weapons and military equipment from the US, as Washington-Beijing relations continue to intensify.
The military will therefore continue to push for the transfer of production technologies and know-how from the US under various industrial cooperation programs to enable Taiwanese production of weapons and equipment, it said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of National Defense Andrew Hsia (夏立言) said on Thursday that a second batch of six AH-64E Apache attack helicopters is set to arrive in Taiwan by Thursday.
“The helicopters have been loaded aboard a ship for delivery from the US,” Hsia said.
However, Hsia added that if the US has not yet announced a service resumption for this type of helicopter by that date, the newly delivered choppers will be grounded for safety checks immediately after their arrival.
The ministry received six Apache choppers early last month, all of which have been grounded for safety checks since Dec. 17, after the ministry received a notification of a malfunction in a helicopter of the same type used by the US Army.
The US and Taiwan are the only two nations using the latest model of Apache helicopters.