TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) on Monday (Sept. 23) said that the M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzer "meets the needs of Taiwan's defensive operations."
The Legislative Yuan's Foreign National Defense Committee held a meeting to discuss the "Special Bill for the Purchase of New Fighter Aircraft" on Monday. During the meeting, legislators posed questions to Army officials about the country's weaponry needs.
When Taiwan lawmaker Freddy Lim (林昶佐) asked if the Army is planning on procuring Paladin howitzers, National Defense Minister Yen De-fa (嚴德發) said the self-propelled gun "meets the needs of Taiwan's defensive operations and has fast reaction speeds and great power" and that "It is hoped that it will further enhance combat effectiveness in the future," reported CNA.
Lin then asked whether the Army's current digitalization process would include compatibility with the weapon. In response, Lt. Gen. Yang Hai-ming (楊海明), chief of staff of the Army, said that the multifunctional laser designator rangefinder has already been partially digitized and included in live-fire drills, according to the report.
Following the purchase of 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks from the U.S., the Taiwanese army has recently begun the process of purchasing Paladin howitzers. In July, the Army said that the military acquisition would be carefully evaluated, planned, and handled in order to strengthen the country's defenses.
The Paladin's main weapon is a 39-caliber 155mm M284 cannon, which is fitted with an M182 gun mount and has a maximum range of 30 kilometers. The gun is operated with an automatic fire control system (AFCS) with a ballistic computer and is fitted with an optical backup; the vehicle’s inertial positioning and navigation system is integrated with the AFCS, according to Army Technology.
Taiwan's current arsenal includes the older M109A2-A5 series of the weapon, the M114 155mm howitzer, and the M110A2 howitzer. The newest of these, the M109A2-A5, was purchased from the U.S. during the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1996, delivered in 1998, and has been in service for 21 years.