The Taiwanese navy established its FY 2022 budget to purchase the ASW helicopters, and on August 31, the Ministry of National Military (MND) submitted a budget request for defense system procurement to the Yuan Parliament, which was later approved by the Parliament.
According to defense researcher Mei Fu-hsing (梅復興), the Biden administration has listed some issues that the US considers major goals for Taiwan’s asymmetric warfare capabilities.
Mr. Mei noted that the United States opposed Taiwan’s military expenditure in platform weapon systems during the Defense Review Talks (DRT) in November 2021, claiming that the MH-60R helicopters violate the idea of asymmetric warfare. Taiwanese officials who attended the conference did not disagree.
Mei Fu-hsing also remarked that some Taiwanese NSC and MND senior officials have stated that they agree with the US position and are preventing the navy from issuing a Letter of Request (LOR) to begin the procurement process for MH-60R ASW helicopters, which will replace the aging 500MD/ASW fleet that has been in service for more than 42 years, despite the fact that the budget has already been approved by the Legislative Yuan.
According to LTN, the budget also includes AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and air-launched Mk-54 lightweight anti-submarine torpedoes.
Current Taiwanese ASW helicopter fleet
The Taiwanese Navy currently operates two types of ASW helicopters.
The 500MD/ASW was purchased from the United States in 1977 and put into service in 1979. The ROC Navy maintained a fleet of 12 500MD/ASW, but only roughly 9 of them were still operating in 2020. The 500MD/ASW is supposed to be phased out after acquiring the MH-60R helos.
Taiwan procured its first S-70C(M)ASW helicopters from the United States in 1983. The US intended to deliver modified land-based S-70Cs outfitted with ASW technology to the ROC Navy through direct commercial sales (DCS).
However, the Taiwanese navy was dissatisfied with the land-based S-70C. Taiwan eventually received a ship-based SH-60 variant after years of negotiations with the US. Ten S-70C(M)1 (1 signifies the first batch) ordered were delivered in the US in July 1990, and all of them arrived in Taiwan in January 1991.
Taiwan obtained the second batch of S-70C(M)2 (meaning the second batch) in June 1997, with the first three delivered in March 2000. In July 2001, all S-70C(M)2s landed in Taiwan and were combat-ready.
The Taiwanese S-70C(M)1 is outfitted with AN/APS-143(V)3 under-nose radar and AN/AQS 18(V)3 dipping sonar. The CT7-2D1 engines power the S-70C(M)-1, while the T700-GE-401C engines power the S-70C(M)-2.