Taiwan starts building missile corvettes and minelayers

Seven ships will enter service in 2021-2025

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President Tsai Ing-wen (front right) visited the manufacturer of the Tuo Chiang-class corvette Friday, May 24.

President Tsai Ing-wen (front right) visited the manufacturer of the Tuo Chiang-class corvette Friday, May 24. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan took a new step in its domestic defense program Friday (May 24) by beginning to build three Tuo Chiang-class missile corvettes and four rapid mine-laying ships at a wharf in Yilan County.

The government has been emphasizing the need for the country to produce more of its own weapons systems itself, as pressure from China has made it difficult to procure the arms from overseas.

While the corvettes look small, they are fast and their firepower is impressive, symbolizing Taiwan is a small place but has the will and the ability to defend its freedom and democracy, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said at the launch ceremony in Suao. The vessels were not only an effective example of asymmetric warfare, but also represented the spirit of Taiwan, she said.

The Navy is scheduled to take delivery of the first ships in late 2021, with the last of the batch entering service in 2025, the Central News Agency reported.

Tsai also praised the manufacturer, Lungteh Shipbuilding, pointing out that the company had seen its workforce grow threefold, with a sixth shipyard opening soon.

The original Tuo Chiang was launched in 2014, and was the first Navy vessel Tsai boarded after taking office in May 2016. Her visit was at the origin of the plans to research and develop a new version and order more of the corvettes, CNA reported.

The mine layers meanwhile were designed to face down an attack by amphibious vehicles trying to land in Taiwan, and would be equipped with a more precise automatic mine-laying system, according to defense officials.