Naval Aviation Command
Naval aviation, headquartered at Hualien, is both shore- and ship-based, with helicopters operating from the ex-US GEARING and ex-US ALLEN M. SUMNER (FRAM II) class destroyers. Land bases include Tsoying, Hualien, Hsinchu and Pintung. The primary land-based naval air base is located at Tsoying.
Naval Aviation Command absorbed the ASW Command in 1995, which had been established in late 1991. On 01 July 1999 the ROCAF transferred its Anti-submarine Group along with its S-2T to the ROCN. Naval Aviation Command consists of two helicopter squadrons and two S-2E Tracker squadrons, the latter supported logistically from the ROCAF.
The S-2s are owned by the navy but operated by squadrons 133 and 134 of the Air Force. Most of the Tracker fleet is out of service. The 702nd Squadron deploying 11 S-70C(M)-2 Thunder Hawk ASW helicopters was inaugurated at Hualien in 2001. Another squadron, the 701st, deployed nine S-70C(M)-1 Thunder Hawks. And the 501st HSL at Tsoying operates the 500MD/ASW helicopters.
Taiwan's annual foreign ocean shipping volume approaches 200 million tons, the majority of which are undertaken by several important ports in Kaohsiung, Keelung, Hualien and Su'ao, so whether sea-routes are smooth or not is vitally important to Taiwan. The depth of water in Taiwan's surrounding sea areas ranges mostly between 50-60 meters, this makes it easy for the large-scale deployment of mines.
At the "US-Taiwan defense summit" held in mid-March 2002, Taiwan Defense Minister Tang Yiau-min and other military leaders had consultation with the US side on defense cooperation and other topics. During the meeting, the Taiwan military side raised the request to the US side for large-scale purchase of arms, one of which concerning their intention to purchase MH-53E Sea Dragon mine-sweeping helicopter attracted people's attention.
On 02 June 2004 the Executive Yuan approved the Defense Ministry's special budget allocations for major military procurement programs worth a total of NT$610.8 billion (about US$18.23 billion). The money to finance the special budget will come from NT$94 billion through the release of shares of state-owned enterprises, NT$100 billion from the selling of state-owned land, and the raising of the national debt of NT$420 billion. The proposed budget would cover six sets of Patriot Advanced Capability III anti-missile systems, eight conventional submarines and 12 P-3C anti-submarine aircraft. The purchase of 12 anti-submarine aircraft will need NT$53 billion (US$1.5 billion) to be carried out from 2005 to 2011. A 2005 ROC study showed that a key part of the arms deal - P-3C Orion anti-submarine aircraft - were four times as effective in detecting submarines as the S-2Ts Taiwan currently operated.
The Pentagon announced tentative plans on Wednesday September 12, 2007 to sell surplus P-3C Orion submarine-hunting aircraft and air-defense missiles to Taiwan in deals potentially worth more than US$2.23 billion, including related gear and services. Taiwan is seeking to buy 12 surplus P-3C maritime patrol aircraft with T-56 turboprop engines, data terminals and a mobile operation command center in a deal that could be worth US$1.96 billion, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a notice to Congress. As part of the proposed P-3C deal, Taiwan also would get help integrating its intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance network. On 20 February 2009 Washington reached an agreement with Lockheed Martin Corp. on refurbishing Taiwan’s long-awaited 12 P-3C Orion anti-submarine aircraft, offered in 2001. The Congress approved the sale six years later but the deal remained stalled. The P-3Cs are on track for delivery in 2013.
On 09 March 2009, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense announced an allocation of US$230 million to buy 60 UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters, following indication the US Congress would approve the deal in September or October 2009. Originally part of a US$11-billion weapons package requested by Taipei in 2008, the helicopters were not included in the eventual US$6.43-billion deal approved by Washington on 10 October 2008.
1st Aviation Group
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2nd Aviation Group