Taiwan unveils first home built submarine in defense milestone – Portal

Taiwan unveils first home-built submarine in defense milestone – Portal

Launching ceremony for Taiwan's first domestically built submarine in Kaohsiung

A bottle is broken on the hull of Haikun, Taiwan’s first domestically built submarine, as President Tsai Ing-wen attends the submarine’s launching ceremony in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on September 28, 2023. Portal/Carlos Garcia Rawlins acquires license rights

KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan, Sept 28 (Portal) – Taiwan unveiled its first domestically developed submarine on Thursday, a key step in a project aimed at strengthening the island’s defense and deterrence against the Chinese navy, although it will not enter service for another two years.

Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, has made its domestic submarine program a key part of an ambitious project to modernize its armed forces as Beijing conducts almost daily military drills to assert its sovereignty.

President Tsai Ing-wen, who initiated the plan when she took office in 2016, unveiled the first of eight new submarines in the southern city of Kaohsiung on Thursday.

“In the past, a domestically developed submarine was considered an impossible task. But today, a submarine designed and manufactured by the people of our country is before our eyes,” Tsai said, adding that it would play an important role in strengthening the navy. Asymmetric warfare capabilities.

“No matter how many risks there are and no matter how many challenges there are, Taiwan must take this step and allow the independent national defense policy on our land to grow and prosper,” Tsai said as she stood in front of the ship named the Narwhal. Taiwan’s red flag, with a white sun against a blue sky, was wrapped around the submarine’s bow.

Tsai said the Narwhal will enter service in 2025, joining two existing submarines purchased from the Netherlands in the 1980s.

The indigenous submarine program drew on expertise and technology from multiple countries – a breakthrough for diplomatically isolated Taiwan.

Speaking to reporters in Taipei, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said Taiwan needs to bolster its defenses with air and sea activities amid increasing threats from China’s military pressure tactics in the “gray zone” near the island.

“Owning a new submarine is one of those strategies. For anyone who questions Taiwan’s submarine strategy, I would be a strong advocate for Taiwan acquiring submarines because it is necessary to deter war,” Wu said.

Taiwan hopes to field at least two such domestically developed submarines by 2027 and possibly equip later models with missiles, the program’s head said this month.

The first submarine, costing T$49.36 billion ($1.53 billion), will use a Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) combat system and carry U.S.-made Mark 48 heavyweight torpedoes. It will undergo sea trials next month before being delivered to the Navy in late 2024.

Admiral Huang Shu-kuang, Tsai’s security adviser who leads the program, has described the submarines as a “strategic deterrent” that can also help maintain the island’s “lifeline” to the Pacific by keeping ports open along Taiwan’s east coast .

Reporting by Carlos Garcia, Walid Berrazeg and Sarah Wu; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei

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