Sunday, March 17, 2013

Expert Raises Questions on Taiwan's Submarine Modernization Platform Goals

     Throughout the past two decades, various administrations in Taiwan have expressed interest in modernizing the country's submarine fleet.  However,  high acquisition costs, political pressure from China, and resistance  from many within the American defense industry have all placed obstacles in front of Taipei's objective of acquiring such a platform.

There are also some  experts who question if Taiwan's goal to acquire modern submarines is a wise one. The following are portions from an interview done with a leading authority on submarine-naval warfare regarding Taiwan's desires for modern submarines, as well as the abilities of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) to counter such a platform.  The expert wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the topics.

Drawbacks to Taiwan Acquiring Submarines: 
" I think that Taiwan would be more secure by not buying submarines, and should instead buy or develop things like more, smaller anti-ship cruise missile (ASCM)-equipped fast attack craft (FAC), mobile coastal defense cruise missiles (CDCM), mobile short ranged surface-to-air missiles, moblile multiple launch rocket launchers, and infrastructure that can withstand a PLA bombardment while still providing basic services to Taiwan's population."

"The other parts to carefully consider are the answers to questions such as: 1.  How many submarines could Taiwan get?  (Answer: probably very few)  2.  How many submarines can Taiwan keep seaworthy and capable of performing their mission?  (Answer:  Probably fewer than the previous answer - submarines break, a lot, and are very difficult to maintain. Roger, Taiwan already does pretty well at that, however.)  3.  When would Taiwan actually get any new submarines? (Answer: probably not quickly, perhaps only in decades, and yet Taiwan needs enhanced defenses very quickly.)  4.  What would be the wartime missions of the submarine, and can other cheaper things do those missions as well or better? (Answer:  I think they can be used for counter-blockade, counter invasion, and counter-commerce.   I think counter-blockade can be done better by CDCMs, by attack helicopters, mines,  and by ASCM-equipped fast-attack craft.  So too can counter-invasion.  I think counter-commerce is an unnecessary, ultimately ineffective, needlessly escalatory, and counter-productive mission for Taiwan.)  5.  What are the peacetime mission submarines would perform?  (Answer: ISR, but the things that submarines can provide to Taiwan can probably be gotten much more cheaply via other means.)"

The Current State of China's Anti-submarine Warfare (ASW)  Capabilities:

"The short, flippant, and accurate answer is they are weak in nearly every aspect of ASW, but I also see a recent emphasis on taking steps to remedy that weakness.   So, we've recently seen internet photos of a Y-8 that looks as if it is a maritime patrol aircraft, Z-9s, Z-9s, and other ASW-related helicopters, more Yuans being launched, and pictures of towed array sonars that are allegedly on some PLAN frigates.  Those all represent a start, but China faces a very long march  before it achieves anything approaching ASW prowess.  This could be taken as a reason for Taiwan to invest in submarines, right?  However, I think that that is only part of the issue."

No comments:

Post a Comment