Minister reaffirms military's commitment to local submarine program
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, Dec. 23 (CNA) The military is committed to its locally- developed submarine program and once progress is made, it expects other countries to express interest in making submarine deals with Taiwan, Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan (馮世寬) said Friday.
Feng admitted that investing in the research and development of a local submarine involves considerable risk, but added that it might also attract interest from other countries to sell Taiwan arms.
At that time, the Ministry of National Defense will decide whether to continue with the program to build submarines or purchase them from overseas, Feng was quoted as saying by Chen Ching-tsai (陳慶財), a member of the Control Yuan, the government watchdog body.
Led by Control Yuan President Chang Po-ya (張博雅), Chen and other Control Yuan members visited the Executive Yuan on an inspection tour earlier Friday.
Chen, who heads the Control Yuan's Committee on National Defense and Intelligence Affairs, said at a news conference following the visit that he asked questions about the development of local submarines and fighter jets, as well as military discipline.
Fielding questions from Control Yuan members, Feng said that Taiwan faces great difficulties in procuring arms from other countries and that for the time being, the military remains committed to the local submarine program, according to Chen.
Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said that Taiwan already has the ability to build patrol boats and expressed the hope that the local submarine program will help to upgrade the ship-building industry in Taiwan and ultimately result in the technical expertise needed to build submarines.
On the issue of military aircraft, Lin said that Taiwan will continue in its efforts to develop indigenous fighter jets, based on the experience of the locally-developed IDF, one of the Air Force's three main types of combat aircraft in Taiwan.
The military launched the local submarine program in an effort to replace the Navy's aging fleet of submarines, the first stage being the completion of a submarine design.
(By Hsieh Chia-chen and Elaine Hou)
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