Taiwan expresses gratitude to U.S. for Perry-class frigate sale

Taipei, Dec. 19 (CNA) Taiwan is grateful to the United States for agreeing to sell it four Perry-class frigates and its sustained commitment to Taiwan's security, a Taiwanese defense official said Friday. U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday signed into law a bill that authorizes the sale of up to four Perry-class frigates to Taiwan. The Senate and the House of Representatives had both passed the bill earlier this month. Taiwan's Navy expected it will take delivery of the frigates in 2016 at the earliest. In Taipei, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Maj. Gen. Luo Shou-he said on Friday that the sale demonstrated Washington's firm commitment to Taiwan's security, and he expressed the ministry's gratitude to the U.S. Congress and the U.S. government for their support. Taiwan has budgeted about NT$5.5 billion (US$174.8 million) to purchase two of the Perry-class frigates, Luo told CNA. "The Navy will review its needs to decide whether to buy more of the Perry-class frigates in the future," he said. The Navy is expected to send a group to the U.S. next year in preparation for taking delivery of the frigates, a Navy official said. The Navy will use the U.S. guided missile frigates, which are being decommissioned by the U.S. Navy after some 30 years of service, to replace its aging fleet of Knox-class vessels that have been in service for about 50 years. The measure approved by the U.S. government will allow the sale of guided missile frigates USS Gary, USS Carr, USS Taylor and USS Elrod to Taiwan's Navy, which already operates eight Cheng Kung-class frigates modeled on the 4,100-ton Perry-class ships. (By Claudia Liu and Elaine Hou)