Here Comes Taiwan’s Submarines

But what is the best design? How does Taipei avoid the challenges of building such an advanced weapon of war?

The National Interest
Date: October 12, 2018
By Carl Schuster

Facing an increasingly powerful and aggressive China, Taiwan has placed a high priority on acquiring modern submarines for its Navy. Stymied in its efforts to purchase foreign-built submarines and lacking domestic submarine construction experience, Taipei sought outside expertise to assist its submarine construction program. On October 1, it took its first major step in that process, signing a $1.6 billion contract with Gavrno Limited to supervise the design of the Taiwanese Navy’s indigenous defense submarines (IDS). Gavron was chosen from among seven competitors based on its technical expertise, capitalization and possession of the required export permits. The design options are expected to be presented by March 2019. A Taiwanese shipyard will initiate construction once a design is chosen with Gaven Limited providing oversight and supervision of key aspects of the construction until the domestic shipyards have gained sufficient experience to go forward on their own.

What remains to be seen is if Taiwan will take an incremental approach of starting with a comparatively small prototype and scaling up the design for its operational units or taking the riskier path of beginning with a full-scale operational submarine. In either case, the more important question will be the submarine force’s size and capabilities. Given the proximity of the threat, 1,200 plus ton ocean-going submarines may not be necessary. A a mix of 600 to 800 ton manned submarines and smaller unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) may provide the required deterrent to Chinese naval aggression and amphibious assault. Submarines remain the ultimate stealth weapons platform that no naval commander can afford to ignore.    [FULL  STORY]

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