Taiwan’s M1A2T Abrams which are expected to reach Taipei in 2023, are “more capable” than Chinese Type 99 tanks or the Type 63A light tank, Taiwanese Army Chief Yang Hai-ming said yesterday.
Taiwanese army personnel are expected to be sent to the US for training and acceptance of the tanks in 2022. The tanks are expected to be delivered from 2023 onwards, Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa told a legislative meeting yesterday.
The Ministry of National Defense would know the exact dates when it receives the letter of offer and acceptance early next month, he said. The Legislative Yuan last year approved a budget of NT$40.5 billion (US$1.3 billion) for 108 M1A2T tanks.
The most recent budget submitted by the ministry showed that it plans to order 18 of the new tanks in 2022, 18 in 2023, 28 in 2024, 30 in 2025 and the remaining 14 in 2026, Taipei Times reported.
Army Chief of Staff Yang Hai-ming said that the M1A2T is more capable than South Korea’s K2 Black Panther, Japan’s Type 10 and China’s Type 99, their main battle tanks. For amphibious assaults, China relies on lighter tanks, such as its Type 63A, which have even less firepower than the Type 99, he said in response to a legislator’s query at the meeting.
Asked by Tsai about the M1A2T’s fuel, Yang said that it can use either aviation fuel or diesel, adding that the army is considering using diesel.
The US state department approved the sale of Abrams tanks, a move that has considerably angered Beijing which has been exercising for a possible amphibious assault on Taiwan which it considers a renegade province.
Taiwan is expecting to thwart a possible Chinese invasion by recently ordered US-made weapons including Abrams tanks and F-16 fighter jets