Date: Apr 06, 2016
By: Lo Tien-pin / Staff reporter
The military has proposed a NT$400 million (US$12.35 million) program to upgrade the nation’s two aging Dutch-made Zwaardvis-class submarines, in which the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology would supervise the “life extension program” (LEP) that would be contracted out to foreign defense companies.
According to sources in the navy, the two submarines have been in service for nearly 30 years and are still seaworthy and capable of carrying out maritime patrol missions, but their electronics and weapons systems are obsolete in terms of operational consistency and reliability.
The two diesel-powered, 2,660-tonne submarines, Hai Lung (海龍, sea dragon) and Hai Hu (海虎, sea tiger), entered service in the navy in 1987 and 1988 respectively.
As most parts for the vessels are no longer in production and suitable replacements cannot be found, it is difficult to maintain and repair the submarines, naval officials said, adding that a large-scale upgrade program is needed to enhance their operational capabilities and to extend their service lives.
Plans for upgrades were also made necessary by president-elect Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) indigenous defense submarine project to enable the domestic production of eight attack submarines, under which the first vessel would not be commissioned until 2025. [FULL STORY]