plans to purchase 10 MH-60R Seahawk ASW helicopters
yesterday confirmed that it is seeking to buy 10 MH-60R Seahawk anti-submarine
warfare helicopters from the U.S. to replace its existing aging chopper
fleet. Fielding questions during an interpellation session at the
Legislative Yuan, Deputy Defense Minister Adm. Chen Yung-kang confirmed
to lawmakers that the R.O.C. Navy is scheduled to purchase MH-60R
Seahawk anti-submarine choppers.
Two US Navy's MH-60R
Seahawk ASW helicopters
to purchase 10 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters," said Vice Adm.
Hsiao Wei-ming, the Navy's chief of staff, in response to questions
by a lawmaker during a hearing before the Legislature's Foreign Affairs
and National Defense Committee.
The purchase is
meant to replace the Navy's aging MD500 helicopters that have been
in service for decades, he noted.
As Taiwan's military
will soon acquire Perry-class frigates from the U.S. to meet its defensive
needs, Chen said the Navy needs more cutting edge weapons systems
to boost its anti-submarine warfare capabilities.
the upcoming project, the Navy Chief of Staff, Rear Adm. Hsiao Wei-min,
said the Navy is aiming to buy 10 MH-60R Seahawks from the U.S. because
the helicopter has much greater anti-submarine warfare capabilities
than the Navy's current choppers.
capabilities of such models include Mk-54 air-launched torpedoes and
Hellfire missiles as well as .50 caliber machine gun that will significantly
enhance the firepower of the Navy's chopper fleet, he added.
The two military
officials' comments came as a response to questions raised by ruling
Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Lin Yu-fang, who said that the U.S. officials
told him that Taiwan was interested in buying the helicopters during
his previous visit to the U.S.
In response, Hsiao
said the Navy hopes to buy this model to work with Perry-class frigates
in the future together along with the existing S-70C helicopters,
saying that these weapon systems will suffice in order to meet Navy's
anti-submarine warfare need.
Hsiao also stressed
that with the MH-60R deal, the military is aiming to purchase new
choppers instead of those already in service.
however, did not disclose how much of the defense budget will be allocated
for the future deal.
Sources told local
media that the Navy seeks to buy MH-60R Seahawks to replace its aging
MD500 helicopters that have been in active service for more than 40
Taiwan has been
beefing up its anti-submarine warfare capabilities by replacing two
squadrons of Northrop Grumman S-2T Turbo Trackers with 12 refurbished
P-3C Orion ASW aircraft.
In 2010, the U.S.
announced a US$3.1 billion deal with Taiwan for the purchase of 60
UH-60M helicopters to be delivered, 10 a year, until the last batch
is transferred in 2018.