The Legislative Yuan’s Budget Center has sounded the alarm over delays in the navy’s next-generation guided-missile frigate program, a source said.
The navy received NT$227 million (US$8.14 million) for the new warships over the past two fiscal years, a source familiar with a center report to lawmakers said.
The military’s top research body, the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, failed to meet program development milestones necessary to be awarded a contract, the source said, citing the report.
Photo: Aaron Tu, Taipei Times
This fiscal year, the navy spent only 5.8 percent of the NT$106 million allotted to the program, the source said.
Although the program’s budget for the next fiscal year has been drastically reduced from NT$1.06 billion to NT$5.72 million, the delivery schedule remains unchanged for the first frigate, the source said.
The military should improve how it evaluates the viability of armament proposals before requesting funding, the source said.
A navy spokesperson said that the COVID-19 pandemic had resulted in delays, but that project managers were working to improve program efficiency.
The naval component of the indigenous national defense program is crucial to the nation’s ability to defend its near seas, the spokesperson said, adding that the navy would spare no effort to complete the warships called for by the indigenous shipbuilding program.
The Ministry of National Defense’s budget plans show that the navy was to receive NT$24.55 billion to have the first frigate constructed by 2026.
The frigates would have state-of-the-art combat systems comparable in performance to the US’ Aegis combat system, the navy said.
The 4,500-tonne ships would use vertical systems capable of launching Tien Chien II and Hai Kung III surface-to-air missiles, it said.
The ships are necessary to fill a capability gap between the nation’s aging frigates and those of potential adversaries, such as China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy, it said.
The frigates would be used on maritime patrols to the nation’s outlying islands, as well as for protecting vital sea lanes and fisheries, escorting convoys and supporting naval drills, the navy said.
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