TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Navy yesterday confirmed that it expects to spend NT$3-NT$4 billion (S$127,000-S$169,000) to complete a design blueprint for a submarine in three years as it strives to build domestic submarines to replace its aging fleet.
During the Legislature's interpellation session yesterday, ruling Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Lin Yu-fang said that according to his understanding, the US is supportive of Taiwan's plan to build its own submarines.
He further noted that a source told him the R.O.C. Navy is planning to spend NT$3- to NT$4 billion to complete the design blueprint of the submarine, which is slated to be completed between 2016 and 2019.
Asked to comment, Navy Chief of Staff Real Admiral Hsiao Wei-min confirmed the plan, adding that the preparation process is still ongoing, without further elaboration.
Deputy Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng, who fielded questions during the same session, added that the Ministry of National Defence (MND) will support all kinds of proposals to beef up the nation's defence capabilities.
However, he stressed that such proposal still needs to be reviewed and approved.
Taiwan has been asking the US to sell diesel-powered submarines for more than a decade in the hope of replacing the decades-old subs.
In 2001, the administration of former US President George W. Bush offered to provide eight diesel-electric submarines. But so far, no significant process on the sale has been made.
In response, the MND previously said that the R.O.C. armed forces has decided to continue to push the US to sell diesel-powered submarines while studying the feasibility in building its own ones simultaneously.
Aside from the acquisition of new submarines, the military also allocated funds to renovate its two 70-year-old US Guppy-class submarines built during World War II, Yen said.
Currently four submarines are in active service in Taiwan: two US Guppy-class submarines and two Dutch-built submarines from the 1980s.