Taiwan has announced a historic moment with the unveiling of its first domestically produced “Hai Kun” submarine.
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The “Narwhal” (English) Hai Kun Class diesel-electric submarine is a new milestone for national defence independence, while also supporting submarine manufacturing and Taiwan’s defence industry, according to an official government statement on 28 September.
It’s reportedly armed with MK-48 Mod6 AT torpedoes and UGM-84L Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen attended the naming and launching ceremony for the submarine in Kaohsiung on 28 September accompanied by Taiwan Shipbuilding Company chairman Zheng Wenlong and Navy Commander Tang Hua.
She outlined the importance of a combat force for guarding Taiwan’s maritime borders and the domestically produced submarine program.
“History will always remember this day … Domestic production of submarines is not only a goal, but also a concrete practice for us to firmly protect the country,” she said.
“Submarines are an important piece of equipment for the Navy of the Republic of China to develop asymmetric combat power in terms of strategy and tactics.
“In addition to external procurement of our national defence armaments, we must also implement national defence independence so that our combat capabilities can be continuously updated and our national defence more resilient.
“The domestic production of national ships and domestic aircraft is the top priority of our president’s administration.
“We promote national defence independence, not only to protect national security, but also to upgrade and develop industries, strengthening the country’s economic strength.
“In the past few years, our national shipbuilding plan has driven related industries to continue to improve technology and research and development capabilities. Upstream and downstream players are also investing in plans and working together to create a complete defence industry supply chain, taking the development of Taiwan’s shipbuilding industry to the next level.
“In the future, the ‘Hai Kun’ will carry Taiwan’s tenacious and brave spirit, dive deep under the sea, quietly guard our homeland, protect our freedom and democracy, and become Taiwan’s force to break through the waves.”
Taiwan originally began development of a domestically manufactured submarine project in 2016 with the establishment of a submarine development centre as well as memorandum of cooperation with the Ministry of National Defense in 2017. A total of eight new vessels are plans under the multi-billion program to reinforce Taiwan’s naval defence.
The People’s Republic of China has responded to the announcement, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning stating Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory, during a press conference on 28 September.
“The reunification of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait must and will be realised,” she said.
“The DPP authorities have clung stubbornly to the separatist position for ‘Taiwan independence’, squandered hard-earned money of people in Taiwan and sought to create antagonism and confrontation across the Taiwan Strait, which will only undermine cross-Strait peace and stability.”