President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that the military is planning to purchase the most advanced tanks to quickly replace older models.
Tsai made the remarks after meeting the family of a soldier killed after a drill in Kinmen County when a M41A3 Walker Bulldog light tank crashed into an embankment next to a road on Thursday.
Tsai did not elaborate on the planned purchases of 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks from the US as part of a plan to modernize Taiwan’s fleet of 1,000 battle tanks, mostly M60A3 and CM-11 models that have been in service for more than two decades.
Photo: Wu Cheng-ting, Taipei Times
Taiwan has budgeted NT$40.52 billion (US$1.39 billion) for the tanks, scheduled to be delivered from 2023 to 2026.
Tsai urged Taiwan’s soldiers not to let the incident demoralize them, adding that she hoped that the public would continue to show its support for the military.
One soldier — Sergeant Lin Kai-chiang (林楷強) — was killed in the incident and another, Corporal Liu Yu-hung (劉禹宏), was injured.
The tank, part of the Kinmen Defense Command’s Lieyu Garrison Battalion, was on its way back to its base when it crashed near Lieyu Township (烈嶼).
Tsai said that the death of Lin was most saddening, adding that she had instructed the Ministry of National Defense (MND) to thoroughly investigate the incident and release its findings to the public.
She said that the ministry would provide as much compensation as it can to Lin’s family.
His parents and other family members flew to Kinmen after the meeting with Tsai. Upon arrival at the funeral parlor, his parents cried while his uncle praised Lin’s contribution to the nation.
MND spokesman Major General Shih Shun-wen (史順文) said that the ministry and Army Command have set up a task force to investigate the incident and dispatched a team to Kinmen on Thursday.
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