Procurement: Make It Yourself Or Do Without

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April 5, 2017: Taiwan finally received the second two of four used Perry class frigates from the United States. Taiwan made the initial request for eight in 2010 and was turned down. In 2014 it asked if it could get four Perry’s and the U.S. finally agreed to that. Taiwan needs new (or refurbished) frigates 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 the Perrys refurbished but without Aegis.

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. Taiwan has upgraded its Perrys with locally developed and manufactured electronics and missiles. The Perrys have air search radar and sonar and can carry two helicopters, which can carry Penguin anti-ship missiles. 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 recently built Cheng Kungs, six Knox class frigates, six French La Fayette class frigates, which entered service in the 1990s. There are also 31 new locally built 171 ton fast missile boats. These began entering service in 2003. But what Taiwan needs the most is more ships that can handle anti-submarine and anti-aircraft operations. Taiwan is apparently going to move forward with building its own submarines.

Taiwan can design and build modern combat electronics and is developing its own version of Aegis for its new ships and export. Taiwan has also been developing its own anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles successfully.

 


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