P-3C AIRCRAFT TO BOOST MILITARY'S UNDERSEA SURVEILLANCE SCOPE: MND
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, March 23 (CNA) The procurement of 12 P-3C anti-submarine aircraft from the United States will meet the military's minimum combat demand and expand its undersea surveillance scope by more than 10-fold, according to a report presented Wednesday to the legislature by the Ministry of National Defense.
While seven of the planes are expected to be delivered to Taiwan in 2009, the other five will be delivered in 2011, the report says.
It says the ministry originally reserved NT$53.04 billion (US$1.7 billion) in a special budget proposal for the 12 aircraft, but the amount has recently been adjusted to NT$45.04 billion following changes in the exchange rate and cutbacks in spending and coverage of some of the amount by the government's regular budget.
It points out that the military's existing S-2T anti-submarine planes, which have been in service for more than 40 years, are no longer capable of meeting the military's combat demands and that the military needs to replace the planes to enhance its three-dimensional anti-submarine capabilities.
China has in recent years developed the Song-class submarine and nuclear-powered submarines and has also purchased Kilo-class submarines from Russia, the report notes.
In the event of a Chinese blockade of Taiwan, the nation's economy and security will be seriously jeopardized, it says.
Lin Chin-ching, head of the ministry's Integrated Assessment Office, predicted that China will have the ability to build aircraft carriers in 2008 and to form an aircraft carrier battle group in 2015 to gain sea dominance in the Taiwan Strait.
Also in 2015, the submarines developed by China will be equipped with the ability to launch an undersea blockade, attack and nuclear retaliation, Lin added.
Lin said the number of new frigates owned by the Chinese navy and its combat capabilities will significantly surpass those of Taiwan in 2012, which he said will pose a great challenge.
The 12 P-3C aircraft are one of the items in the government's NT$480 billion proposed arms procurement package from the United States. Also on the shopping list are six Patriot PAC-III anti-missile batteries and eight diesel-electric submarines.
(By Y.F. Low)
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