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Taiwan to Assemble Indigenous Submarine’s Pressure Hull in June

Taiwan will complete the pressure hull block assembly of its Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) by June this year, the country’s Executive Cabinet stated in a policy report.

The pressure hull forms the submarine’s primary skeleton and balances the vessel’s inner and outer pressure.

Taiwan’s IDS will be completed by September 2023 and delivered to the navy the following year. The keel of the submarine was laid last November, a year after the project was launched at a new facility in Kaohsiung.

The country plans to manufacture eight indigenous submarines to expand its existing fleet of four. The navy allotted 49.3 billion New Taiwan dollars ($1.6 billion) to build an IDS prototype in 2018.

Construction of the prototype began in November 2020, with a ceremony attended by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and other senior security and military officials.

Taiwan will import key IDS equipment such as combat system integration, optronic masts, torpedoes, digital sonar systems, and other combat equipment and diesel engines from the US.

Boost to Navy

Taiwan currently has four aging conventional diesel-electric submarines. The Hai Shih SS-791 and Hai Pao SS-792, procured from the US in the 1970s, are World War II vintage submarines still operational. The two vessels were upgraded under the Greater Underwater Propulsion Power Program and are referred to as “Guppy” class in Taiwan.

The other two vessels, the Chien Lung-class Hai Lung SS-793 and Hai Hu SS-794, were procured from the Netherlands in the 1980s.

Assistance From US, Japan 

Taiwan’s IDSs are based on the submarines the country acquired from the Netherlands, according to analyst H.I. Sutton, who specializes in underwater warfare.

The vessel will be armed with MK-48 Mod 6 heavy torpedoes and UGM-84L sub-launched Harpoon Block II missiles.

US-based defense company Lockheed Martin will serve as the systems integrator and provide the combat management system. Japan is also reportedly providing technical assistance in the manufacturing of the submarine.

Record Defense Budget

In January this year, amid increasing tensions with China, Taiwan approved an extra defense spending bill of over $8.6 billion to boost its defense capabilities.

In 2021, Taiwan registered incursions by over 970 Chinese jets into its air defense zone, which is more than double the number carried out in the previous year (380).

The country had already allotted an annual budget of over $17 billion for this year.

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