TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s Army is considering a new round of arms purchases from the U.S., and the items will likely be M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks, according to a source from the military.
The discussion over whether the military should replace the acting battle tanks with new models has been going on for over a decade. The Ministry of National Defense (MND) has recently come to an agreement, reported Taiwan-based media outlet, China Times.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has given her support for the purchasing plan. The MND is likely to allocate funding starting next year after the plan goes through the Executive Yuan and the Legislative Yuan later this year, reports said.
Earlier Defense Minister Yen Teh-fa (嚴德發) has said during a Legislative Yuan session that the ministry was mulling over a plan to purchase M1A2 battle tanks from the U.S.
Yen said at the time that both the Taiwan and the U.S. authorities were conducting assessments over a possible deal, and that the Taiwan government had not officially proposed its plan to the U.S.
The Taiwan Relations Act states that the U.S. should provide arms sales to Taiwan so that the country may maintain sufficient self-defense capabilities.
The military is likely to purchase two tank battalions with 100 M1A2 battle tanks, said a military official familiar with the matter.
The items to be purchased will include tank parts and training courses to teach personnel to operate the new machinery. The budget is estimated to be around NT$20 to 30 billion, reports said.
The army is said to possess around 1,000 tanks as of now, including the CM-11 Brave Tiger and the M60 Patton battle tanks.
Designed for modern armored ground warfare, the 70-tonne M1A2 battle tanks will increase challenges for China’s People’s Liberation Army should it try to invade Taiwan through the coast, said the official.