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US personnel in Taiwan to survey tank maintenance, training capabilities

Taiwan will receive 108 M1A2T tanks in four batches from 2023-2026

M1A2 Abrams tank.

M1A2 Abrams tank. (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's military revealed on Sunday (April 11) the U.S. sent personnel to the country a few days ago to survey its maintenance and training capabilities.

The military has compiled a budget of about NT$40.5 billion (US$1.42 billion) to purchase 108 M1A2T tanks from the U.S., which was approved in 2019. The tanks will be delivered in four batches from 2023 to 2026 and are expected to be assigned to the Sixth Army Corps, in order to guard north Taiwan.

Ahead of delivery, the U.S. recently sent personnel to Taiwan to inspect the nation’s maintenance capabilities, training grounds, defensive positions, tank driving simulator purchasing, and guidelines for tank operation. The Taiwan Army plans to send 84 soldiers in 2023 (36 tank operators and 48 maintenance personnel) to the U.S. for training, CNA reported.

The military pointed out that after the U.S. survey, it will set up a training center for M1A2T tank driving and shooting exercises at the Kengzikou training ground in Hsinchu County’s Xinfeng Township. The proposed facility will take four years to build and will include areas for fixed and moving target practice.

Currently, the army has approximately 1,000 tanks, including CM-11 Brave Tiger and M60A3 tanks, which have been in use for more than 20 years.

According to the Ministry of National Defense (MND), the M1A2T’s 120 mm smoothbore gun can penetrate 850 mm rolled homogenous armor. The tank has composite 850 mm armor and is equipped with a battlefield management system to enhance digital battlefield management and combat efficiency. Furthermore, it uses an AGT-1500 gas turbine engine that can generate 1,500 horsepower, giving it the ability to rush onto the battlefield with no problem.

The MND emphasized that China’s 99A tank can only pierce armor up to 780 mm thick and has a top speed of 60 kilometers per hour. Meanwhile, its armor is 700 mm thick.