Hai Lung II [Sea Dragon]-class Submarine
Taiwan is hoping to build its first home-grown submarines within eight years and commission them into service within a decade. Taiwan has warned China that it will do whatever it takes to defend its sovereignty as the island launched production of a new fleet of submarines. President Tsai Ing-wen at the inauguration ceremony in the southern city of Kaohsiung on 24 November 2020 said "This submarine is an important part of allowing our navy to develop asymmetric warfare and to intimidate and block enemy ships from surrounding Taiwan's main island".
"Now, with the construction of the submarine to its future commission, we will certainly let the world know our persistence in safeguarding our sovereignty." The island has never produced its own submarines. The first of the eight new vessels will be delivered by 2025, with the entire project estimated to cost at least $16 billion (€13.5 billion).
The groundbreaking ceremony for the special building of the Republic of China Navy submarine ship was held 09 May 2019. This place was originally intended to manufacture mine-hunting ships, but after this project was aborted due to the fraud of the Qingfu shipbuilding company, it was to become the country's secret submarine plant.
President Tsai Ing-wen attended the ground-breaking ceremony with the commander of the three armed forces. In her speech, she said that the implementation of national defense autonomy is her constant determination. She persists in determination and courage to guide everyone to face challenges and overcome difficulties. The prototype ship model was first announced at the ceremony, and the submarine developed for the first time in Taiwan is expected to be delivered by the end of 2025. After overcoming challenges over the past years, Taiwan had finally obtained export permits for the key technologies needed to design its own submarines, she said, expressing hope that this first step will be a success for the project.
President Cai Ying, accompanied by the Secretary-General of the Presidential Office Chen Ju, the Vice President of the Executive Yuan Chen Qimai, the Minister of National Defense Yan Defa, and the Chairman of the Taiwan Shipage Zheng Wenlong, and so on today, the South China Kaohsiung Port Terminal, presided over the Republic of China Navy’s “Submarine State Made” dedicated plant groundbreaking ceremony.
"Central News Agency" quoted Zhou Zhiming, deputy general manager of Taiwan Ships, who said that the future prototype ship is about 70 meters long, 8 meters wide and 18 meters high. The submerged tonnage is about 2,500 to 3,000 tons. It is expected to be launched into the water in the third quarter of 2024, delivered to the ship at the end of 2025, followed by the Navy for evaluation. The Taiwan left a special ship number, No. 1168, for the prototype ship. According to the government's plan, there should be at least eight submarines in the entire Taiwan sea.
The "long-range heavy torpedo development plan", which has been interrupted for more than ten years, was expected to be restarted, allowing the country to build long-range heavy torpedoes to be deployed in the same way as the first national submarine. the "long-haul heavy torpedo development project" was implemented by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and was called "The Dragon Plan". In the past, Chen Shui-bian’s predecessor Chen Tsang-bian has made specific development results and developed a number of long-range heavy torpedoes. Up to 40 knots were also in line with the specifications proposed by the Staff Headquarters; however, at the time, the Staff Headquarters considered that the overall reliability was insufficient, and insisted on purchasing from the United States. The national heavy torpedo plan was frustrated and the development plan was also suspended. Officials said that after the "Dragon Plan" was frustrated during the Bian government period, the project R&D personnel returned to their respective departments.
Taiwan does not have a complete warship shipbuilding system. The industry cannot produce submarine special steel plates and steel, not to mention the precise deep deep welding. The Taiwan navy has almost no modern industrial management experience. The 2017 QingFu minesweeper case dealt a huge blow to confidence in Taiwan’s domestic defense industry, which many saw as a lack of rigor in the Navy’s screening and procurement process in selecting contractors for domestic construction projects. In 2015 the Navy awarded a contract to build six minsweepers to QingFu Shipbuilding, a company with neither the financial nor technical resources to execute the contract. The company got bank loans on the basis of the contract, and embarked on a career of real estate speculation on the mainland. The Navy probably demonstrated poor judgement in the contract award, and certainly demonstrated incompetence in monitoring contract execution, or lack thereof.
Although the Taiwan ship was absent from the 2017 Taipei International Aerospace and Defense Industry Exhibition, Vice President Chen Jianren emphasized in his opening speech that the Navy has signed the "Memorandum of the Launching and Cooperation of Submarine National Designs" and is expected to complete the design and construction of the homemade submarine in two phases. In eight years, let the submarine launch into the water, serve in the military within ten years, and step out of the national defense policy, the most challenging step.
There were two submarine models on the scene, one in the "National Shipbuilding State" exhibition area of the Ministry of National Defense, because it has been officially displayed in the past, and had not received much attention; the other interesting is Lockheed Martin. The company exhibition area, on the side of the F-16, P-3 anti-submarine model, behind the partition, invisible, with a Scorpion-derived S-80 submarine developed by Spain and France. The ship model shows the various telescopic mast configurations in the sail hood, and the combat system used is contracted by Loma.
The Lockheed weapon control system (Weapon Control Suite) displayed on the screen can provide diesel-electric submarine operation MK48 heavy torpedo for power supply, cooling, control, launch and post-shoot control interface, as well as under the depth of the periscope. A lightweight antenna system for communication. In addition, the new S-80A configuration, in addition to torpedo, anti-ship missiles, also reserved the space to install the Tomahawk missile control system.
A Taiwan shipbuilder and a ship designer signed a memorandum of understanding with the country's Navy on 21 March 2017 to jointly build submarines for the military as part of a government effort to develop an independent national defense industry. The MOU was signed by Navy Commander Huang Shu-kuang, CSBC Corp., Taiwan Chairman Cheng Wen-lon and Chang Guan-chung, president of the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), at a ceremony in the southern port city of Kaohsiung.
The Taiwanese navy's memorandum of understanding with two local companies was to develop submarines over the next four years. Construction of the vehicles, ideal for warfare against China, could reach $85.8 million, though the final price was not set, the defense ministry spokesman said.
The signing was witnessed by President Tsai Ing-wen, who said the construction of submarines was the most challenging aspect of Taiwan's policy to create an independent national defense industry. The government will exhaust all means and pool its resources to solve any problems associated with building indigenous submarines, she said. The initiative involves the efforts of not only the Navy, CSBC, and NCSIST, but also the government, the military and relevant industries, Tsai said.
CSBC Corp. Taiwan Chairman Cheng Wen-lon acknowledged there were problems to be worked out because Taiwan lacks any experience in building submarines, but he said the difficulties were being addressed. He also noted that CSBC Corp. had built more than 100 ships for the Navy and said the company would use that experience in developing the local submarine program. the project will have two main phases. The first will be to complete the design for the subs and have a budget of approximately NT$2 billion (US$65.64 million), Cheng said. The second stage will involve building the submarines, he said, without giving any cost projections for the vessels or estimates of how many submarines might be built.
NCSIST Vice President Gao Chung-hsing said the most important part of the program is a system to integrate all of the equipment and ensure the safety of ships operating underwater. The NCSIST will cooperate with CSBC Corp. in these areas, Gao said.
Taiwan has long tried to acquire submarines from other countries with little success because of their reluctance to upset China. US President George W. Bush authorized the sale of eight diesel electric submarines to Taiwan in 2001, but the deal never came to fruition because of political wrangling in Taiwan and questions over whether the U.S., which did not produce conventional submarines at the time, could actually supply the vessels.
Taiwan's navy currently had four submarines, two of which are too outdated for operations and are used only as training vessels. Taiwan has long been in the market for additional diesel submarines to counter China's growing naval might. Taiwan could deploy submarines defensively at the entrances of its main ports -- at Kaohsiung in the south and Keeling in the north -- to stop Chinese submariness from mining them. Or Taiwan could use submarines to sink Chinese shipping, or blockade Chinese ports. Beijing has strongly opposed the sale of submarines to Taiwan, which it has characterized as offensive weapons.
China maintains an overwhelming numerical advantage in submarines over Taiwan and this quantitative advantage will continue through the decade. While the number of boats in service in China was expected to decline, their qualitative capabilities will increase. China was producing more modern submarines and was using submarine-related technology from Russia. Although the force was oriented principally toward interdicting surface ships using torpedoes and mines, China shortly will begin arming some of its submarines with a submerged-launch cruise missile. The capability of Chinese submarines to conduct ASW operations was expected to improve in light of the acquisition of Russian-built KILO-class submarines and the greater emphasis being placed on ASW training. As a result, China's submarine fleet will constitute a substantial force capable of controlling sea lanes and mining approaches around Taiwan, as well as a growing threat to submarines in the East and South China Seas.
Under its submarine program, Taiwan's navy plans to increase its submarine fleet and to decommission old submarines, bringing the total number of submarines to about a dozen. But Taiwan's desires to add six to ten new submarines to the Navy have long remained at the paperwork stage. The United States had not endorsed Taiwan's proposal because of fears it could upset the balance between the mainland and Taiwan. Indeed, the United States rejected Taiwan's request for subs in the 1990s.
The newly-designed diesel-electric submarine will use high-strength steel plating and sound absorption material for the hull resulting in lower noise than the nuclear submarines. It will be equipped with advanced U.S. combat systems, submarine-launched Harpoon missiles and advanced torpedoes, which will greatly increase survivability and firepower. After the navy acquires the submarines, its early warning and monitoring range will increase five-fold and mobile strike capabilities will increase by over 100 times. When complemented by Kidd-class destroyers and P-3C ASW patrol aircrafts, they will impose visible deterring effects against PRC's intents of naval blockades.
A proposed model of Taiwan’s first domestically manufactured submarine was displayed at Kaohsiung International Maritime and Defense Industry Exposition Sept. 15-18, 2016 in the southern port city. The inaugural Kaohsiung International Maritime and Defense Industry Exposition kicked off Sept. 15, providing a world-class platform for showcasing the leading-edge capabilities of Taiwan’s shipbuilding industry and promoting the development of indigenous warship and submarine manufacturing.
The construction of Taiwan’s first indigenous submarine prototype officially began on 03 November 2020, Liberty Times reported 01 October 2020. A ceremony will be held that day at CSBC’s Kaohsiung shipbuilding plant and will be hosted by President Tsai Ing-wen. The submarine is expected to be ready for launch in the third quarter of 2024 at the earliest and will be sent to the Navy for sea trials in 2025. The Kaohsiung location has a special 45-meter-tall factory for building submarine hulls. It can accommodate three submarines simultaneously and in the future will be able to handle ship construction and maintenance.
Well-known American military journalist David Axe in "Forbes" published an article that pointed out that Taiwan alone can destroy a Chinese invasion fleet by relying on the eight submarines that are expected to be built. The ship may cost a total of 16 billion US dollars (about 455.9 billion Taiwan dollars), but every penny is worth it.
Speaking in parliament on 17 March 2021, Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng, who took up his post in February, said that the United States had approved export permits for all the sensitive equipment needed for Taiwan’s first domestically made submarine fleet. Construction on the eight attack submarines began last November with the first vessel expected to be completed by 2024.
The launch of Taiwan’s first indigenous submarine and the delivery of heavyweight torpedoes by the United States are expected to take place earlier than first scheduled, reports said 21 July 2021. While the submarine would have made its maiden voyage during the first half of 2024 and fully entered service in 2025, military officials now say its first trip should take place in September 2023, the Liberty Times reported.
The government had drawn up a budget of NT$49.3 billion (US$1.75 billion) for the first vessel, with work beginning last year. The assembly should be completed by the end of 2022, while electronics systems will be fitted in early 2023, according to the report. The submarine’s maiden journey will be followed by months of testing before the Navy can officially take delivery in 2024. If everything develops according to plan, the military would like to procure between eight and 12 more submarines, with each batch of two or three vessels more advanced than the previous one. By the end of the delivery period, the first submarine would be upgraded to match the sophistication of the later vessels, the report said.
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