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Republic of China Navy

Tien Tan Advanced Combat System Ship [AEGIS]

Taiwan has sought to purchase the American AEGIS Advanced Combat System in an effort to boost sea defenses against the mainland, and has developed plans to buy as many as four Aegis destroyers. Taiwan regards the ACS system on board the Aegis-guided missile destroyer as a standard for the navy in the 21st century. If approved, the ship will be known as the "ACS Ship" or Tien Tan (Altar of Heaven ) and would be commissioned in 2008 at the earliest.

The navy had intended to upgrade the eighth Cheng Kung-class missile frigate the Tien Tan, to Aegis-class by equipping it with Aegis-class weaponry systems. The Taiwan Navy PFG-2 Class frigates variant of the US Navy PERRY (FFG 7) Class included incorporation of unique Taiwan weapons and ship systems into the Class. An upgrade of the Class was developed incorporating a Lockheed Martin AN/SPY-1F phased array radar, vertical launch system and other anti-air warfare features, as well as signature improvements. However, the program was finally suspended due to the cost and technical risk involved.

Navy Deputy Chief-of-Staff expressed Taiwan's interest in Aegis to American officials in 1998, and during his visit to US in late 1998, Chief-of-General Staff Tang Fei was advised of US willingness to transfer such technology. At that point, it was contemplated that the United State might consider selling the requested warships to Taiwan after the current US construction program is completed in 2002. The construction period for an Aegis-class warship is approximately 4 years, so the first ordered warship could be completed in 2006. This, plus 2 years for training, means that the ordered warships could be commissioned in 2008 at the earliest. On the eve of the annual US-Taiwan defense procurement talks it appeared that an understanding has been reached whereby the United States would agree to transfer Aegis combat system technology to Taiwan. The ROC military submitted a formal request for the AEGIS Advanced Combat System (ACS) during the April 1999 meeting. American officials indicated that while export of the combat system can be further discussed, sale of entire Aegis warships to Taiwan would not be possible given possible objections from Beijing.

Consequently, Taiwan must devise its own hull solution for the Aegis platform. Taiwan is continuing to look for countries with the capability of building the platform for the ACS system, which include Japan, Spain, Italy and France. The tonnage of this vessel may be between 9,000 and 12,000 metric tons and its exterior will be designed with the stealth capability similar to the Arleigh Burke guided-missile destroyer and the Lafayette class frigate. While Taiwan is continuing to seek the sale of the whole Aegis warship, talks have been put on hold because of the anti-US sentiment in China resulting from NATO's bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Taiwan had evaluated the possibility of building two more Chen Kung-class warships equipped with a "mini-AEGIS" systems, but the Chen Kung is too small for the system and the performance of the mini-AEGIS might prove sub-standard.

Given budgetary constraints, Taiwan must choose between the purchase of the Aegis-guided missile destroyer or new submarines, although priority is given to the purchase of Aegis-guided missile destroyer. Due to the high cost of Aegis ships, the military has revised the requirement (downward) to between two and four units, depending on budgetary resources. The ROC General Staff has expressed concerns about the Navy's ability to meet the ship's manning requirements, and about potential susceptibility of such high-value naval targets to PRC attacks. The Navy tentatively plans to deploy the Aegis ships on Taiwan's east coast, so as to reduce potential vulnerabilities.

Specifications

Builder
Propulsion
Length feet / meters
Beam feet / meters
Draft feet / meters
Displacement 9,000 - 12,000 tons
Endurance
Speed knots
Crew
Armament
Construction

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