The navy is to modernize the two Hai Lung-class submarines in its fleet as part of a four-year program as planned, after Netherlands-based RH Marine green-lit the program’s technical feasibility, a Ministry of National Defense official said.
Modified from the Dutch Zwaardvis-class, the Hai Lung-class subs have been in service for more than 30 years of their 35-year life span, the official told the Chinese-language Liberty Times (sister paper of the Taipei Times) on condition of anonymity.
To enhance combat capabilities and to address a shortage of parts, the navy has planned numerous improvements, including equipping the pair with long-range heavy torpedoes from the US, and upgrading their electronic warfare and combat systems, he said.
The US last year approved the sale of Mark 48 torpedoes; the Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology would be responsible for upgrading the electronic warfare and combat systems and RH Marine is to help with systems integration, the official said.
Given the subs’ small interiors and difficulty of integrating new systems with older ones, in April last year the navy sought assistance from RH Marine, he said.
The firm conducted a year-long evaluation and has completed the initial report on implementing the upgrades, the source said.
The institute is to start contracting and licensing procedures this year, while combat systems software design, equipment purchases and interface integration would begin next year, he said.
The submarines will be refitted from 2020 to 2022 to take advantage of their refurbishment cycles, he said.
The institute will furnish what equipment and components it can manufacture, while the remainder would be sourced from private companies, he said.
Ministry and institute officials approached representatives from an unnamed US defense manufacturer at the Taiwan-US Defense Business Forum held in Kaohsiung on May 10, he said.
The firm’s representatives tentatively agreed to sell the needed equipment and parts, he said.