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More Cheap Perrys Please Sir
by James Dunnigan
December 8, 2012

For the last two years Taiwan has been trying to buy eight used Perry class frigates from the United States, to replace eight older (from the early 1970s) Knox class frigates it received in the 1990s. The U.S. retired the last of its 46 Knox class ships in 1994 and many nations looking for cheap, proven pre-owned frigates have sought to get them. The Taiwanese Navy wanted to equip the eight Perrys with Aegis air defense systems. But the U.S. would only provide two, for $120 million each, without Aegis. These will arrive in three years.

The Perrys are 4,100 ton ships that have a crew of 220 and are normally armed with a 76mm gun, six tubes for launching Mk 46 anti-submarine torpedoes, and a 20mm auto cannon as anti-missile defense. As built, the Perrys had a missile launcher for SM-1 anti-aircraft or Harpoon anti-ship missiles (from a 40 missile magazine) but these were removed from all U.S. Perrys in 2004. This was done because U.S. allies needed the dwindling supply of SM-1 missiles more than U.S. ships did.

The SH-60 helicopters carried by the Perrys could still use their smaller Penguin anti-ship missiles. The Perrys have air search radar and sonar and can carry two helicopters. Top speed is 55 kilometers an hour. If built today, the Perry's would cost about $300 million each.

Taiwan's existing eight Perry's were built in the 1990s under license in Taiwan. These Cheng Kung class frigates are also 4,100 ton ships, armed with the SM-1 anti-aircraft missile launcher, six torpedo tubes, one 76mm gun, two 40mm anti-aircraft guns, one 20mm Phalanx anti-missile autocannon, and eight locally made anti-ship missiles.

The Taiwanese government needs to do something about its surface force, which now consist of the eight new Cheng Kungs, a dozen older U.S. destroyers and frigates, and six French frigates, which entered service in the 1990s.

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