Taiwan will send a team to Europe to follow the design of the components of its next submarine

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According to the Taiwanese daily Liberty Times, cited by the website taiwannews.com, the Ministry of Defense of the independent island of Taiwan, will send a team of 6 engineers to Europe for an 11-day visit to Europe in 2020, in order to verify and monitor the design and manufacturing of components intended to equip the prototype of the new class of submarines wanted by the Taiwanese authorities. Another team of 6 members will carry out the same mission in the United States, this time for an 8-day visit.

The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense has in fact confirmed having secured service contracts with around fifteen industrial groups in Europe and the United States, to design and manufacture all of the equipment and elements essential to the design of this prototype, which benefits from a budget of $1,5 billion. In 2019 alone, the Ministry of Defense financed nearly $250 million dedicated to this program, including $120 million for the construction of manufacturing infrastructure.

Until now, only the United States seemed to have decided to support Taipei in strengthening and modernizing its defense tools, to be able to face possible aggression from the continent. However, in the specific field of conventionally powered submarines or AIP, US shipyards no longer have the skills, having not manufactured this type of submersible since the 60s. Taipei had to turn to other partners, which can only be in Europe, Japan or South Korea, the only countries to have this know-how in the West. On the other hand, any participation or assistance given to Taiwan in a Defense program risks angering Beijing, with the key possible economic retaliatory measures.

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If we are to believe the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense, it seems that the Europeans have decided to share this mission, so as to never appear as a main defense technological provider vis-à-vis Beijing. It is also likely that the identity of the European industrialists remains unknown to the public, so as not to overly provoke the Chinese authorities.

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The Taiwanese Navy has 6 Kang Ding class light frigates derived from the French FLF

Construction of the prototype will begin in 2020 according to the Ministry of Defense, and the building should begin its sea tests in 2024 or early 2025. It will be followed by 7 other units staggered until the middle of the following decade. The Taiwanese Navy today uses two Guppy II type submarines dating from the Second World War and modernized to become the Hai Shih class, and two Dutch Zwaardvis type submarines acquired in the 80s, and modernized to become Hai Long class. It also uses 4 destroyers and 28 frigates, for the majority of buildings acquired second-hand from the US Navy (Kidd class destroyers, Knox and OH Perry class frigates) as well as the 6 light stealthy frigates derived from the Lafayette acquired from from France in the 90s, which are the most modern buildings in the Taiwanese fleet. She recently undertook the construction of a new class of coastal missile corvettes.

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