Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/30/2012 -- BMI's Taiwan Defence and Security Report for Q3 2012 examines the country's strategic position in the Asia-Pacific region. It provides an overview of the contemporary geopolitical challenges facing the country, and the challenges it may face in the future.
The report examines the trends occurring in Taiwan's current and future defence procurement, and the order of battle across its armed forces. The intention is to provide a clear and concise discussion of these issues. The report's general conclusion is that the re-election of Kuomintang President Ma Ying-jeou in early 2012 has paved the way for the continuation of relatively warm cross-strait relations, giving the island confidence about its security outlook for the next few years at least.
However, Ma's promotion of good relations with China has led to accusations that he has been neglectful of national defence. Perhaps to counter this criticism, Taipei has increased its defence budget for 2012 and is now looking to move forwards with some key defence programmes, notably submarine and fighter aircraft procurement.
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However, China's influence also makes it awkward politically for the US to supply Taiwan with advanced weaponry. As a result Taiwan will continue to depend on the US for only some of its security needs, while also having to develop what it can domestically.
Over the last quarter BMI has revised the following forecasts/views:
- An ambitious new project to develop new submarines domestically has already run into difficulty, with the Ministry of National Defence pouring cold water on a proposal by a Taiwanese shipbuilder to entrust it with the submarine programme. Lawmakers attacked the MND for failing to support local industry in its attempts to manage the programme, but the fact remains that Taiwanese firms lack the expertise needed for the construction of submarines.
- New complexities have been added to Taiwan's F-16 programme, with the US House of Representatives voting in May to sell the island at least 66 new F-16s. The Obama administration had previously refrained from doing this for fear of provoking China. Taiwan was already engaged in negotiations about an upgrade programme for its existing F-16 fleet, which lawmakers have criticised as being overpriced. The prospect of new aircraft may now encourage Taiwan to defer a decision regarding the upgrades.
- The prototype of a new class of missile fast attack craft was commissioned in May, meaning that an important naval programme is now ready to begin. Up to 12 stealthy catamarans will be built as part of an US$853mn project.
- Supersonic HS-3 anti-ship missiles are starting to be fitted to Taiwanese naval vessels. These represent a powerful new deterrent against Chinese forces.
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