MND ELABORATES ON BUDGET ALLOCATIONS FOR MAJOR MILITARY PROCUREMENT
Taipei, June 4 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense (MND) called a news conference Friday to elaborate on its budget allocations worth NT$610.8 billion (US$18.2 billion) for major military procurement programs amid grave public concern over the issue.
Vice Minister Hu Chen-pu chaired the news conference, with ranking representatives from the army and navy explaining and detailing the contents, timetables and purposes of their military build-up programs for the years to come in conjunction with the United States.
Yang Tien-shiao, a lieutenant-general and chief of the general staff of the Army General Headquarters, said the army plans to purchase six batteries of Patriot PAC-3 missiles for an eight-year period from 2005 to 2012, with a price tag of NT$144.92 billion.
According to Yang, the installation of the advanced missiles in northern, central and southern Taiwan will effectively help the military protect at least 70 percent of the civilian population and more than 60 percent of the country's industries, a noticeable improvement from the current levels of 25 percent and 8 percent.
At present, the army only has three Patriot PAC-2 missile batteries in northern Taiwan, making it unable to provide comprehensive protection for the whole island by countering multi-headed missiles or those carrying biochemical agents, he explained.
Lee Tung-hai, chief of the general staff of the Navy General Headquarters, said the navy aims to purchase submarines with effective deterrent capabilities in an effort to strike a balance and even achieve naval supremacy in the Taiwan Strait.
The navy is intent on buying eight diesel-fueled submarines, with the delivery for the first unit slated for 2013 and for the last unit in 2019, Lee said, adding that the total spending, including ammunition and relevant facilities, is estimated at NT$412.1 billion.
Turning to the navy's need for 12 P-3C anti-submarine airplanes, Lee said that NT$53.4 billion has been allocated for that expenditure, he said.
While the establishment of the squadron will take seven years, deliveries for the first seven units and the remaining five are scheduled for 2009 and 2011, respectively, he said.
The navy's current squadron composed of 26 S-2T anti-submarine airplanes has fallen short of its goal of serving as an adequately combat force.
All the budget appropriations have been approved by the Executive Yuan and are awaiting the final green light from the Legislative Yuan.
(By Flor Wang)
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