Taiwan’s first indigenous submarine is now set to be launched in September 2023.
It was reported that Taiwanese top national security officials were looking at speeding up the construction schedule of the IDS, and would like to have the submarine launched in first half of 2024, being delivered to ROC Navy in 2025, because of the massive change in Taiwan-China relations.
LTN quoted an anonymous military official saying that the related institutions have made full inquiries to finish the construction as early as possible all while keeping high construction quality standards, in order to launch the submarine in September 2023 as top national security officials planned.
It was reported in March 2021 that the IDS project progresses following U.S. greenlight for key equipment (known as the “red zone” technologies) supply, such as combat system integration, digital sonar systems, optronic masts (periscopes), torpedoes, torpedo tubes and other combat equipment and diesel engines.
The construction of IDS begun in November 2020, and assembly should be completed by the end of 2022, while systems will be fitted in early 2023, according to LTN’s report.
And because of the rising treat of China, Taiwan’s military will also try to bring forward the delivery of torpedoes. The U.S. announced the sale of 18 MK-48 Mod6 Advanced Technology (AT) Heavy Weight Torpedoes (HWT) to Taiwan in May 2020.
In June 2017, The U.S. announced that it will sale 46 MK-48 Mod6 torpedoes to Taiwan. But in the end, ROC Navy purchased only 28 because of the limited budget. A total of 46 MK-48 heavyweight torpedoes were schedule to be delivered by 2028, now Taiwanese military will try to have all of them delivered by 2026.
Current submarine force of Taiwan
The ROC Navy currently have 4 submarines. Two of them are World War II vintage and were transferred from the U.S. in 1970’s. SS-791 ROCS Hai Shih (sea lion) was former Tench Class USS Cutlass (SS-478), ROCS Hai Pao(seal) was former Balao class USS Tusk (SS-426), both received Greater Underwater Propulsion Power Program (GUPPY) conversion, therefore unofficial called Guppy class in Taiwan. Two ships are still operational and reportedly capable of combat.
The other two are ageing Chien Lung (Sword Dragon) class, also known as Hai Lung (Sea Dragon) class. ROCS Hai Lung (Sea Dragon) SS-793 and ROCS Hai Hu (Sea Tiger) SS-794 were purchased from the Netherlands in the 1980’s.
Chien Lung class were equipped with German-made AEG SUT 264 heavyweight torpedoes. Indonesia sold licensed production SUT torpedoes to Taiwan in 1980’s, in exchange of money, landing crafts and 100,000 tons of rice.
In 2008, The U.S. announced that 32 UGM-84 Harpoon Block II missiles, along with weapon control systems, other associated equipment and services were sold to Taiwan. ROC Ministry of National Defense confirmed the existence of the sale and delivery in 2013.