By J. Michael Cole / Staff Reporter
Taiwan has all but given up on acquiring diesel-electric submarines from the US and is expected to embark on a domestic program with assistance from abroad, a leading defense analyst told the Taipei Times.
Mark Stokes, executive director at the US-based Project 2049 Institute and a vocal proponent of a submarine program for Taiwan, said the Ministry of National Defense had given up on acquiring submarines from the US and had decided to launch an indigenous program with foreign assistance.
Military sources claim that research on submarine building has been launched and that the navy is trying to acquire production know-how from abroad.
The ministry has reportedly commissioned a local shipbuilder to contract a country other than the US capable of building submarines for cooperation in building non-nuclear-powered boats.
The Naval Shipbuilding Development Center under Navy Command has been very busy studying the blueprints of the navy’s two Hai Lung-class submarines — Taiwan’s only combat-ready subs — which were acquired from the Netherlands in the late 1980s.
Naval authorities are also reportedly readying to send personnel abroad to study production technology or negotiate technology transfers for building pressure-resistant hulls, which sources say is the most challenging aspect in building submarines.