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Taiwan to build 7 new submarines with Harpoon missiles in $284 billion project.

According to information published by Liberty Times Net on July 7, 2024, Taiwan has announced plans to produce seven additional domestically-built submarines, each equipped with submarine-launched Harpoon missiles. The total budget for this project is set at NT$284 billion, to be executed over a 15-year period.
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Taiwanese (ROC) Navy's Hai Kun-class submarine Hai Kun. (Picture source: Taiwan presidency)

Military sources report that the budget proposal for the fiscal year 2025 has been submitted to the executive and legislative branches, receiving approval for the mass production plan of these submarines.

The substantial cost includes the procurement of advanced submarine-launched Harpoon missiles, known for their formidable destructive power. In 2014, the Navy successfully tested these missiles, which demonstrated their capability by penetrating and severely damaging the target ship.

The announcement of the NT$284 billion budget for the additional submarines has sparked discussions regarding the higher cost per unit compared to the prototype submarine.

Military insiders clarified that the prototype's budget covered only heavy torpedoes, while the production models will include both heavy torpedoes and Harpoon missiles. Additionally, the combat systems on these new submarines will surpass those of the prototype, contributing to the increased budget.

The eight planned submarines will collectively carry a substantial arsenal of 224 weapons, significantly more than the 28 carried by the older Chien Lung-class submarines.

Former President Chen Shui-bian initially proposed the construction of eight submarines, with the estimated cost of Harpoon missiles and MK-48 heavy torpedoes at NT$10 billion. Over the past two decades, the prices of these munitions have increased due to technological advancements.

The budget for these additional submarines will be included in the annual defense budget rather than as a special allocation. The plan spans from fiscal year 2025 to 2039. Construction will be executed in three phases: the first three submarines will be built at 18-month intervals, followed by two more in each of the subsequent phases, with performance enhancements implemented at each stage.

Based on the progress of prototype testing, the contract mandates delivery by the end of 2025. The initial batch of production submarines is expected to begin construction in early 2026, with the second batch commencing in late 2027.

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