TWO KIDD-CLASS DESTROYERS EXPECTED TO JOIN NAVY BY YEAR'S END
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, Aug. 16 (CNA) Two of four Kidd-class destroyers purchased from the United States are expected to be delivered to Taiwan by the end of the year, an official of Navy General Headquarters said Tuesday.
Rear Adm. Lee Hao, deputy chief of staff for Combat Readiness and Training, made the remarks at a press conference held at the Ministry of National Defense to explain the progress of the four destroyers purchased at a cost of NT$24 billion in June 2003.
Lee said that military officers and seed instructors, as well as repair and maintenance technicians are receiving training in the United States to prepare for the delivery of the two de-mothballed destroyers, which are undergoing sea trials and weaponry system tests.
The ships are entering the final tactical test and evaluation stage and are scheduled to undergo SM-2 fire tests in October and depart from the U.S. in early November.
The other two destroyers are expected by March 2007.
Lee said the navy hopes that after the commissioning of the four destroyers, they will form the outer peripheral of the fleet, while the navy's Perry-class, Knox-class and Lafayette-class frigates will play an inner circle role.
The Kidd-class destroyers will target enemy planes that have fired missiles, leaving other vessels to deal with the incoming missiles.
The Taiwan authorities submitted a shopping list in 2001 that included top-of-the-line U.S. destroyers of the Arleigh Burke class equipped with the Aegis radar system, but the Bush administration later approved the sale of only the much older Kidd-class destroyers.
The purchase was embroiled in a fierce debate. Opponents of the purchase included members of the legislature's powerful defense committee, which made several attempts to block the sale. Critics cited ships' age -- they were built in the late 1970s -- and their high cost, and suggested that Taiwan should push the U.S. to release the Aegis system sooner.
(By Lilian Wu)
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