Taiwan's Navy hopes to quickly acquire four Perry-class frigates from the US. (US Navy)
TAIPEI — Taiwan’s Navy plans to move quickly on the procurement of Perry-class frigates in 2015, if legislation introduced by a US House committee on Nov. 20 is passed.
The US House Committee on Foreign Affairs introduced legislation on Nov. 20 to release four Perry-class frigates to Taiwan: USS Taylor (FFG-50), USS Gary (FFG-51), USS Carr (FFG-52), and USS Elrod (FFG-55). The legislation still has to be approved by the House and Senate before the White House signs off on it. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee backed a similar bill last week.
On Nov. 21, Taiwan’s Navy chief of staff, Kao Tien-chung, told the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign and National Defense Committee that the Navy would procure two Perry frigates in 2014 with delivery expected in 2015.
Taiwan’s military has been hit hard by budget cuts and managing a new restructuring program has been more challenging than expected.
Taiwan might eventually procure only two of the four frigates due to budget issues, said a Taiwan defense industry source. Taiwan’s Navy needs new ships to replace aging Knox-class (Chi Yang-class) frigates procured from the US in the 1990s.
The Navy has the option of building the new Sea Swift catamaran corvettes if the release by the White House is halted due to pressure from Beijing.
There is some criticism in Taiwan defense circles over plans to procure the US-built frigates. Taiwan’s China Shipbuilding Corp. built eight Perry-class (Cheng Kung-class) frigates before closing the line in 2002, resulting in layoffs. The new Sea Swift program would help boost Taiwan’s struggling shipbuilding industry.