Forces: December 14, 2003

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  Taiwan recently announced it will reorganize its navy around the four armed and seaworthy ex-Kidd-class guided missile destroyers (DDGs) just purchased from the US for $850 million. And contrary to some press reports, it is still actively seeking to update and expand its small submarine fleet. 

Since the end of World War II, the Republic of China Navy (ROCN) has been organized around Task Force 62 -- the name the US gave the Republic of China's navy in signifying allied relations between the two countries. Once it receives the four Ex-Kidds, however, Taiwan will create Task Force 63, to be comprised of several detachments of Kidds, plus ex-Lafayette-class, ex-Knox-class, and Chengkung-class frigates. Submarines are also planned for the mix. 

Taiwan currently has just four aging subs. Under Taiwan's plan, a wartime Task Force is a temporary grouping of seven to eight detachments, each with a mixture of ships. In peacetime, the navy's warships are deployed in administrative groupings of the same class ship at one base or patrol area. The establishment of the Task Force 63 is expected to give the ROCN greater survivability and firepower in the battlefield, with the four ex-Kidd-class destroyers becoming the flagships of separate detachments of the task force. The Kidds have substantially more powerful radars and longer-range air defense missiles than other ROCN ships. In peacetime, Task Force 63 is to be commanded by the chief of the educational training and doctrine development command, indicating a change in traditional Taiwanese military doctrine in line with US thinking. 

In a counter-attack to recent news that Germany will block its quest for new submarines and that the American Institute in Taiwan recently asserted that Taiwan should seek other defense upgrades before submarines, Taiwan's state-run China Shipbuilding Corp. recently said that it is capable of building submarines with the cooperation of private industry, and German analysts reluctantly agreed. CSBC officials are hoping that a "2-2-2-2" plan will be followed in the building of the eight diesel-powered subs, where the first two are built totally in the US or elsewhere abroad, one-third of the third and fourth subs are built in Taiwan, two-thirds of the fifth and sixth subs are manufactured in Taiwan, and the last two subs are built completely in Taiwan. Eight new fourth generation diesel-electric subs for Taiwan would be worth between $4.5 and $8 billion in 2002 US dollars.

 


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