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Republic of China Navy

Hai Lung II [Sea Dragon]-class Submarine

Taiwan has long been in the market for additional diesel submarines to counter China's growing naval might. Under its submarine program, Taiwan's navy plans to increase its submarine fleet by six to 12 and to decommission old submarines, bringing the total number of submarines to about 12. But Taiwan's desires to add six to ten new submarines to the Navy have always just remained at the paperwork stage. The United States has not endorsed Taiwan’s proposal because of fears it could upset the balance between the mainland and Taiwan. Taiwan’s navy currently has four submarines, two of which are too outdated for operations and are used only as training vessels.

Netherlands submarine builder RDM provided Taiwan with a pair of Zwaardvis-class submarines, and is in the running for Taiwan's planned construction of up to a dozen diesel submarines (despite previous the Netherlands government prohibition against military sales to Taiwan).

In January 1999 a plan to fabricate German-designed submarine sections at Electric Boat for delivery to Taiwan for final assembly was made public. General Dynamics, the parent company of Electric Boat, would build as many as 10 diesel-electric submarines for the Taiwanese Navy. The German shipbuilding company HDW approached General Dynamics about building the submarines under an export license, which is allowed under State Department rules passed in 1994, when Ingalls Shipbuilding was seeking approval to build diesel boats for the Egyptian Navy.

Electric Boat has long been pushed to produce diesel submarines for export, but production would likely not take place in Groton. The Navy does not want to see export diesel submarines produced at the same yard as advanced nuclear submarines, given concerns about technology transfer. The submarines would be equipped with sonar and defensive weapons systems jointly developed by Europe and the United States, while submarine parts would be supplied by General Electric, and after the subs were commissioned the US would provide training, technology and support.

Taiwan may build its own submarines if it is not able to acquire them from other countries. Taiwan's state-run China Shipbuilding Corp., in cooperation with Taiwan's Chungshan Institute of Technology, could build six to 10 of the submarines for military service starting in 2005. Taiwan's China Steel Company has developed HY submarine steel; China Shipbuilding Company has also begun studying and developing the design and build process of submarine hull on the basis of its experience in submarine servicing; and the development of heavy wire-guided antisubmarine torpedoes has gone underway at Chung Shan Academy of Scientific Research.

But key technologies for the submarine, including the torpedo fire control system and electronic radar system, still have to be obtained through the arms sale channel. Taiwan is currently exploring obtaining the parts to build submarines from other countries in the face of strict regulations on the export of submarine parts. The United States has ruled out the possibility of selling submarines to Taiwan, but is still not certain whether or not it will export submarine build technology to Taiwan. The Defense Ministry is concerned that there will be technical problems if Taiwan builds the submarines without support from other countries, and consequently has refused to approve a budget for more submarines. If Taiwan built conventional submarines, their performances would approximate those of "Hai Lung" and be inferior to the Chinese Kilo-class submarines bought from Russia.


Propulsion diesel / electric
Length feet / meters
Beam feet / meters
Draft feet / meters
Displacement 2,000 tons submerged
Speed knots

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Updated Sunday, August 15, 1999 10:47:57 AM