The construction of three Tuo Jiang-class missile corvettes and four rapid mine-laying ships began Friday, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced during a ceremony at a wharf in the northeastern county of Yilan.
Taiwan has been seeking to improve its asymmetric warfare capabilities amid a growing military imbalance in the Taiwan Strait.
In remarks, Tsai said that although the Tuo Jiang-class missile corvette is small, it is speedy and has strong firepower, symbolizing Taiwan’s determination to safeguard its democracy and freedom.
Tsai said when she boarded Tuo Jiang corvette — the first naval vessel she has boarded since taking office in May 2016 — that she has made up her mind to strengthen Taiwan’s national defense autonomy.
The navy launched the upgrade project of the Tuo Jiang corvette last year and started production of the three vessels Friday, the first of which is expected to be delivered in late 2021, with the last one set to enter service in 2025.
The key point of the upgrade project is to increase the corvettes’ tonnage and install new equipment developed by the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology — Taiwan’s top weapon design and research agency — to optimize and improve its combat ability, the Navy said in a news release.
Described as an “aircraft carrier-killer” by media outlets, Taiwan’s first Tuo Jiang warship was built in 2012 by Lung Teh Shipbuilding Co. and commissioned in March 2014.
As for the rapid mine-laying ships, the Navy said the ships will be equipped with T-75 20-millimeter automatic cannons and T-74 machine guns.
In addition, the ships will have a newly developed automatic mine-laying system and propulsion equipment that will allow the vessels to perform mine-laying operations speedily and precisely, the Navy said.
Construction of the four mine-laying ships is expected to be completed by 2021, according to the news release.