Thursday, September 17, 2009

Taiwan Stages ASW Drill



Taiwan Stages ASW Drill


Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense revealed details May 29 of a secret anti-submarine exercise conducted as part of its annual Han Kuang (Han Glory) military exercises on May 14 off the coast of the southern port city of Kaohsiung. Information on the drill was embargoed and only the official Military News Agency was allowed to witness the exercise.

The exercise simulated a blockade of the Kaohsiung Port by two Chinese Kilo-class diesel submarines. Taiwan’s new Kidd-class destroyer Tsoying (DDG 1803) led a coordinated attack that included Grumman S-2T Tracker anti-submarine aircraft, Knox- and Perry-class frigates, with Air Force fighter aircraft providing cover.

Rear Adm. Tu Cheng-mo, deputy chief of the 124th fleet, commanded the Tsoying during the mission, said a Defense Ministry source. The exercise demonstrated that Taiwan’s military can break a submarine blockade by China, said the source.

Taiwan has a variety of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) platforms and capabilities. The Navy’s 168th Squadron of eight Knox-class frigates serves as the service’s primary ASW vessels. These vessels are home-based at Suao as part of the East Coast Command.

Taiwan also has two squadrons of Sikorsky S-70 anti-submarine helicopters that make up the 701st “Thunder Hawk” and the 702nd “Magic Hawk” squadrons at Hualien. The Navy also has one squadron of MD-500 anti-sub helicopters assigned to the 501st Squadron at Kaohsiung.

Taiwan’s aging S-2T Trackers officially make up two squadrons based in Pingtung. However, sources have stated that the military can only maintain a few aircraft for air missions. One U.S. source stated that only four aircraft were operational at any given time.

Taiwan’s military has been pushing hard to acquire new Lockheed P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft first offered by the U.S. government in 2001. However, political bickering in the legislature between pro-unification and pro-independence members has stalled the budget for several years. Sources say that with elections in 2008 a new legislature will end the stalemate.