Thursday, October 8, 2009

Taiwan Upgrades Kidds’ Navigation; Complains of Lack of U.S. Navy Support, Supplies

Defense News


Taiwan Upgrades Kidds’ Navigation; Complains of Lack of U.S. Navy Support, Supplies

By Wendell Minnick

TAIPEI — Taiwan’s four Kidd-class (Keelung­class) destroyers are receiving new navigation data systems.

A Taiwan defense official said the original gyrocompasses did not receive adequate support from the U.S. Navy. There have also been problems with acquiring parts and supplies from a diminishing U.S. inventory.

Northrop Grumman Systems – Sperry Marine received a $5.6 million Foreign Military Sales contract on Sept. 3 to make and deliver nine Navigation Data Distribution Systems (NAVDDS), four installation and check-out spare kits, and 10 hours of engineering, technical and logistics support.

The Taiwanese government requested a replacement for its WRN-7 Global Positioning System and navigation distribution system that supports the WSN-5 mechanical gyrocompass with a standard WSN-7B ring laser gyrocom­pass. Work will be completed by March 2012.

“The NAVDDS is one element within an integrated upgrade to the Taiwan DDG-1801-class combat systems and are specifically replacing the current obsolete navigation and associated distribution systems on those ships,” said a contract award notice issued by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, was the contracting activity. Northrop’s Sperry Marine, Charlottesville, Va., provides navigation and ship control solutions for the international marine industry with customer service and support through offices in 16 countries, sales representatives in 47 countries and authorized service depots in more than 250 locations worldwide, said a Northrop press release.

Taiwan bought four Kidd-class destroyers in 2002 for $875 million, delivered in 2005 and 2006, and 144 SM-2 Block 3A air defense missiles in 2007 for $272 million.

The Kidds were renamed the Keelung-class and replaced the remaining seven Gearing-class destroyers under the 131st Patrol Squadron at Keelung Naval Base. The Kidds are based at Kaohsiung Naval Base for maintenance reasons.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Taiwan’s Navy had 14 Gearings in its fleet along with seven Fletcher- and Sumner-class destroyers, all of which date from WWII. The Fletcher and Sumner destroyers were replaced with Perry-class frigates built in Taiwan.

The four Kidds were considered an interim platform for the eventual procurement of Aegis­equipped destroyers, but Taiwan’s warming ties with mainland China make that unlikely. It now appears increasingly unlikely the United States will allow the sale due to political and procurement problems.