Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) yesterday reaffirmed the US’ approval of export licenses for “red zone” military technologies used in Taiwan’s indigenous submarine program, which he said has not changed since its initial approval in December last year.
The Ministry of National Defense has divided required components into three categories: “red” for imported technologies that the nation is unable to research and develop, or manufacture itself; “yellow” for parts that are difficult to obtain, but can be produced locally; and “green” for components that can be manufactured locally.
Sonar systems, diesel engines, torpedo and missile systems, and an integrated combat system have all been categorized as “red,” according to the ministry.
Ministry officials said that the program is progressing as expected, with a scheduled prototype launch in 2024 and vessel delivery in 2025 remaining unchanged.
Construction of the nation’s first indigenous submarine began last year. Once completed, the vessels are expected to replace the navy’s aging Dutch-made Zwaardvis-class submarines, the Hai Lung (海龍) and the Hai Hu (海虎), which entered service in 1987 and 1988 respectively.
Chiu told the media that the ministry would carry on with the program, and ensure that all the details are in accordance with the law and procedures.
People should not interpret the announcement as a warming of Taiwan-US ties, said.
“If a sale has been approved and is procedurally sound, there should not be anything overtly political about it,” Chiu added.
However, the ministry said a delivery date cannot be definitively guaranteed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement makes the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) proposed budget freeze on the program in December last year null.
The KMT had cited concerns that export permits for critical components for construction of the submarines would not be granted and the wait for export license permission could mean that the project would not meet its deadline.
Additional reporting by Peng Wan-hsin
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