The US is to deliver High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to Taiwan a year ahead of schedule, in 2026, with the delivery being expedited in response to rising military tensions across the Strait, the Ministry of National Defense said.
Taiwan agreed to buy 29 HIMARS worth NT$32.5 billion (US$1.06 billion), including an initial order of 11 systems and an additional 18 to replace 40 M109A6 self-propelled howitzers, Lee Shih-Chiang (李世強), director of the ministry’s Department of Strategic Planning, told lawmakers on Thursday.
The first 11 systems are on sechedule, to be delivered next year or in 2025, while the additional 18 are to arrive in 2026, ahead of the planned 2027 or 2028 delivery, Lee said.
The army’s procurement of rocket artillery systems and ammunition additionally includes 84 Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMs) with a nominal range of 300km and 864 Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS), with a nominal effective range of 42km, he said.
Separately, retired admiral Huang Shu-kuang (黃曙光), convener of the Presidential Office’s indigenous submarine task force, said yesterday that the nation is on track to put the first indigenous submarine to sea in September.
He made the remark at a National Taiwan Ocean University event discussing the nation’s shipbuilding programs.
Submarines are crucial for Taiwanese security, as the nation’s geostrategic position on the first island chain is better suited for a defensive posture based on submarine warfare than strength-on-strength surface action, Huang said.
The nation’s security strategy should involve improving the capability of the armed forces and banding with other democratic nations to form a defensive alliance in the Indo-Pacific region, he said.
Taiwan began efforts to obtain submarines under former president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) administration, but the first attempts were unsuccessful due to diplomatic constraints, Huang said.
The indigenous defense submarine program was proposed near the end of former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) term and continued by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), he said.
Precision strike missiles, submarines, undersea vessels, missile-firing boats, and mines and minelayers must be developed to defend the maritime logistical lifelines the nation depends on for gas and strategic resources, Huang said.
The university is at the forefront of the nation’s bid to develop AI-based autonomous uncrewed undersea vessels, and a prototype has successfully completed an one-hour undersea voyage, university president Cheng Ying-yao (鄭英耀) said.
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