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Taiwan- Army Acquire New Cannons (18 Jan 2003)

The Taiwan Army is slated to receive state-of-the-art cannons this year. They will receive the first batch of newly ordered 155mm M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers from the US. The M109A6 canon was agreed by the US to be sold to Taiwan two years back and is the most technologically advanced artillery in service with the US army.

More than 140 M109A6s have been ordered from the US, with an expenditure of about NT$10 billion. This has so far been the largest arms purchase that the army has made in recent years.

The M109A6 is the updated version of the 155mm M109-series self-propelled howitzers which the US has developed since the 1950s. The Taiwan army had earlier versions of the M109, but they do not have the advanced technologies of the A6 model. This is due to the improvement in the A6 model's electronic systems.

The earlier models include the A1B, A2, and A5 types used mainly by the armored brigades and most of these howitzers have been in use for more then two decades.

The M109A6 not only functions as a cannon but also as a command vehicle as it can provide fire command and control to several A5 models simultaneously. It is able to operate on its own without the assistance of forward observers. The system is also said to have greater survivability in battlefield than previous models due to its high mobility such as the ability to shoot on the move.

The Taiwan Army has future plans in acquiring more technologically advanced weapon systems, which boasts of higher automation but requires less manpower to operate.

This latest howitzer requires only four soldiers to operate while previous models required six soldiers.

The US has agreed to sell to the Taiwan Army the M1A2 main battle tank but the deal is being delayed due to lack of funds on the Taiwan side.