The army has proposed a modernization program to replace or upgrade nine major types of weapons and equipment, including replacing aging battle tanks with US-made M1A2 Abrams, a Ministry of National Defense official said.
The budget plan, titled “The Follow-up Plan for the Procurement of Important New Combat Systems for the Army,” requests the ministry to obtain a substantial number of new weapons, the official said on condition of anonymity.
While the army has over the past decade obtained AH-64 attack and UH-60 utility helicopters and CM-32 wheeled armored personnel carriers, large quantities of other essential equipment still need modernization, the official said.
The nine items on the army’s wish list are tanks, anti-tank guided missiles, self-propelled air defense systems, mortars and 155mm howitzers, infantry fighting vehicles, tracked field recovery vehicles, fuel trucks and new rifles, the official said.
The equipment is to be obtained from US arms sales or developed by the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology and manufactured domestically, he said.
All of the weapons and equipment tentatively slated for replacement or upgrades are those that have been in service for more than 25 years and are nearing obsolescence, he said.
Army generals, especially those from the armored branch, want to place an order for more than 500 M1A2 tanks to replace the M60A3 and CM-11 tanks, whereas the ministry considers their proposal excessive, because the army has more than 1,000 tanks in active service, he said.
Instead, the ministry is inclined to request to purchase about 100 M1A2 tanks from the US, which would be adequate for fully equipping two armored battalions, he said.
The army’s Avenger air defense missile system — essentially Stinger missile launchers mounted on Humvees — are armed with older munitions types and have a high incident rate for rollovers, he said.
As a result, the army is interested in either procuring an upgraded model from the US, or considering the option of replacing it with an indigenous self-propelled air defense system to be developed by the institute, the official said.
The remaining legacy tanks and artillery pieces would undergo servicing to extend their service life and maintenance until they could be replaced, he said.
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