Taiwan has hired a Gibraltar based design firm, Gavron Limited to create blueprints to build 8 indigenous submarines expected to cost NT$500 billion (US$16.13 billion).
Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa told lawmakers yesterday that the nation’s Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) program is on track. A deadline of March 1, 2019 has been set for Gavron Limited to submit blueprints for the program’s first phase, Taipei Times reported.
Republic of China Navy Commander Admiral Huang Shu-kuang has been appointed as convener of the IDS ‘taskforce,’ while Taiwan Shipbuilding Corp (TSBC) will be the lead contractor to build a fleet of eight new submarines domestically, with the first vessel to be completed by 2025.
“Even if the US and other countries were willing to sell us submarines, we would still push through with the IDS program,” Yen said adding, “we must rely on ourselves and not depend on foreign countries. Taiwan has the industrial capability and technological know-how to make it happen.”
He was confident TSBC and other Taiwanese naval contractors could successfully bring the program to completion. The projects could help participants gain experience that they could use to build new warships, submarines and advanced naval weapons, he added.
Lawmakers said they had reports that top Taiwanese officials had over the past month visited Europe and signed a memorandum of understanding with Gavron.
The memorandum requires that Gavron obtain export licenses from the UK government to certify that it is allowed to export military technology, submarine design and construction know-how, and British naval weapons to Taiwan, the lawmakers said.
Yen said Gavron was asked to submit blueprints first. “We will scrutinize all aspects to ensure full oversight and risk management for this first phase,” he said. “After verification and approval, we will proceed to detailed design planning and then domestic construction of the submarines.”
China has opposed Taiwan buying new submarines and had prevailed upon European based manufacturers not to sell advanced weapons to the tiny island state.