Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-08-02 05:50 PM
Taiwan’s Air Force ordered a total of 12 submarine-hunting planes, which should all have arrived on the island next year to be based at the Pingtung Air Force Base.
The aircraft already in the country should have reached “Initial Operational Capability” (IOC) status by July, but it did not happen because the US refused accept Taiwan equipping the planes with torpedoes and depth bombs it already had, the newspaper wrote.
Instead, the Americans asked Taiwan to draw up a budget to purchase new weapons from the US, leaving the current P-3C aircraft to remain in the training phase, according to the United Evening News, which did not specify how much the budget would amount to.
In a compromise, Taiwan reportedly accepted to buy new torpedoes but continued to insist on using depth bombs already in its arsenal.
The Air Force installed a special training center in Pingtung which included facilities for simulating flights and handling weapons.
Because of the US refusal, the planes could only fly out and seek out submarines, but not take any measures against them, the United Evening News reported.
The paper wrote that joint operations by the Lockheed P-3C and its ageing predecessor, the S-2T, should have started last month, with the 40-year-old planes being gradually retired from service. The US itself is preparing to replace the P-3C with the P-8 Poseidon.
Military spokespersons were reportedly unwilling to comment on the allegations, saying that the IOC process counted different phases.
When one of Taiwan’s P-3C aircraft was about to be delivered last December, a malfunction in its flight control system forced it to land in Guam for a special inspection. The problem did not cause any major difficulties for the program, defense sources said at the time.
The US first approved the sale of the 12 anti-submarine aircraft, worth an estimated US$1.96 billion (NT$58.7 billion), in 2007. Taiwan still has 11 S-2T aircraft at its disposal.