Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) plans to send teams of experts to Europe and the U.S. to consult with international defense industrial partners as the construction phase of the prototype for the indigenous submarine project nears. The ministry has reportedly built partnerships with 15 defense industrial vendors across Europe and the U.S. with an eye on participating in some fashion in Taiwan’s Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) project.
With the construction phase for the initial prototype submarine slated for launch next year, the MND is dispatching teams to consult with industrial partners to supervise and verify the equipment procurement process and construction of components on the lead vessel. In 2020, a six-person team will head to the U.S. for an eight-day trip, and a second six-person team will travel to Europe for an 11-day visit.
Taiwan’s IDS project began with a four-year design effort that kicked off on March 21, 2017, with the signing of a contract with local CSBC Corporation and research unit the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST). The design phase has an estimated cost of TWD2 billion ($64 million).
I am pleased to announce that Taiwan will – for the first time – commence building our own naval submarines pic.twitter.com/iBegeWF4pF
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) March 21, 2017
For the six-year prototype construction phase, the MND has allocated TWD49.3 billion ($1.5 billion), with TWD7.51 billion being spent in fiscal year 2019. The goal is to begin sea trials on the prototype submarine between late 2024 and early 2025.
Ultimately Taiwan will build eight indigenous submarines. The Ministry of National Defense has set a goal of commissioning the prototype submarine by 2025. The commissioning target had originally been 2028, but was brought forward due to the fast progression of the contract design phase.
Taiwan’s intent is that the indigenous submarine program, coupled with the service life extension of the two Dutch-built Hai Lung class submarines in service with the Republic of China’s Navy, will eventually result in a 10-submarine naval arm.
The IDS project forms a core element of President Tsai Ing-wen’s strategy to bolster Taiwan’s local defense industry as a means of self‑sustainment in the areas of aerospace (both manned and unmanned platforms), shipbuilding, and cyber defense and awareness.