Taiwan Clouded Leopard 8x8 AFVs to get US 105mm gun from January 2022

According to Matt Yu and Joseph Yeh in Focus Taiwan, Taiwan's military will start installing locally-produced 105mm guns onto its 8x8 Clouded Leopard armored vehicles next month, a military source told CNA on December 5. After completing the installation, the military will begin conducting initial tests of the gun's capabilities from March next year.
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CM-32 Yunpao (Clouded Leopard) armored vehicle in mobile gun configuration with a 105 mm gun (Picture source: Wikipedia)

The source said that the domestically-made 105mm gun barrel generates 60 percent less recoil than the imported barrels used so far, adding that its ammunition would also have better penetration. Before allowing a new weapon to enter mass production, it must pass through the other stages of the Taiwan military's five-step new-weapon development process. The process includes initial conceptual design, related engineering development, initial weapon testing, and a combat readiness test.

On June 7, 2021, Army Recognition published that the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense had previously stated that the National Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) had purchased two M68A2 tank guns from the U.S., which approved the export license in December 2020. The Armament Bureau under the Ministry of National Defense earmarked NT$769 million (US$27.77 million) to build two prototypes of these vehicles between 2019 to 2023. In addition, NCSIST signed a Technical Assistance Agreement this January 2021 with the American cannon manufacturer to provide technical documents and blueprints to facilitate research and development.

On June 4, 2021, Taiwanese military personnel said that the two cannons would be used to design the gun for a new armored vehicle, which will be assigned to joint battalions for front-line and anti-armor missions.

The Clouded Leopard M2 will then be armed with this new 105 mm cannon, a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun, and a 12.7 mm turret machine gun. The MND and NCSIST will cooperate to produce two prototypes and begin developing a new 105mm armor-piercing projectile by 2023.

The CM-32 "Clouded Leopard" (officially Taiwan Infantry Fighting Vehicle (TIFV) is an 8x8 armored vehicle currently being produced for the Republic of China Army. It is based on the 6x6 CM-31 designed by Timoney Technology Limited of Ireland and is further developed by the Ordnance Readiness Development Center. According to the Taipei Times, it was named after the Formosan clouded leopard, an indigenous animal, to show that the vehicle is "agile and swift". The project was launched in 2002, at a cost of NT$700 million (US$21.9 million). The armor of the CM-32 provides protection against 7.62 mm AP rounds, while the frontal arc withstands 12.7 mm AP rounds. NBC protection and fire suppression systems are also standard. The V-shaped hull provides protection from landmines and can withstand 12 kg of TNT under any wheel. In its basic APC form the CM-32 is armed with a 40 mm automatic grenade launcher and a 7.62 mm co-axial machinegun, both mounted in a remote weapons station.

After the assault guns have entered mass production, vehicles mounted with the guns will be deployed in the military's newly formed combined-arms battalions. Officially called the Taiwan Infantry Fighting Vehicle, the Armament Bureau has so far commissioned the indigenous CM-32 and CM-33 Clouded Leopard armored vehicles and has already begun mass production of the CM-34 model. The CM-32 and CM-33 models are armed with 40mm automatic grenade launchers, while the CM-34 versions are armed with the Orbital ATK 30mm Mk44 Bushmaster II cannon, which has an effective firing range of over 2,000 meters.