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US began delivery of Harpoon anti-ship missiles in 2013: MND

TAIPEI -- The United States began delivery of submarine-launched Harpoon missiles this year, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) has said in a report to the Legislative Yuan.

The anti-ship cruise missiles will become operational on Taiwan's two Dutch-built combat-capable submarines, the Tuesday report said.

The NT$5.87 billion (US$195.46 million) deal, to be fulfilled between 2008 and 2016, is aimed at extending the country's undersea force's strike capability, the MND said.

The deal reportedly includes 32 UGM-84L sub-launched Harpoon Block II missiles along with two UTM-84L exercise missiles and two weapon control systems, according to media coverage.

The supersonic sea-skimming missiles, which have a range of about 125 kilometers, would bring targets along the Chinese coast within range for Taiwan, the media has said.

The MND sent its report to the Legislature's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee a day before Deputy Defense Minister Andrew Hsia was scheduled to report on Taiwan-U.S. military exchanges and progress in Taiwan's arms procurement projects.

The MND report outlined plans to upgrade all three of Taiwan's Patriot II anti-missile batteries and purchase three Patriot III batteries between 2007 and 2021 at a cost of more than NT$179 billion.

Two of the three batteries have been upgraded to date, the report said.

The upgrading of the Patriot anti-missile batteries is expected to improve Taiwan's capability to fend off a ballistic missile attack by China, it added.

Meanwhile, new military aircraft will soon take to Taiwan's skies as the country has begun taking delivery of new fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft along with attack and utility helicopters.

The MND report said US$7.6 billion worth of new equipment and aircraft designed to beef up Taiwan's defense has begun filling arsenals this year, the report said.

The list includes 12 refurbished Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, 30 Boeing AH-64E Apache Longbow attack helicopters, and 60 Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk utility helicopters.

Three P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft and six Apache attack helicopters have already been delivered and UH-60M utility helicopters are set to start arriving in November 2014, the report said.

Looking ahead, the MND said Taiwan could face more hurdles in procuring advanced weapons and military equipment from the U.S. as Washington-Beijing relations continue to get closer.

The military will therefore continue to push for a transfer of production technologies and know-how from the U.S. under various industrial cooperation programs to enable Taiwanese production of weapons and equipment, it said.

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