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Taiwan to Acquire Anti-Submarine Aircraft From U.S (28 Jul 2003)

Taiwan military is deciding to purchase US-made C-27J Spartan anti-submarine aircraft rather than the P-3C Orion and S-3 Viking. The P-3C Orion and S-3 Viking are both out of production and resuming the line would add significantly to the cost of the aircraft. Spare parts and technical support for the P-3C and S-3 would also be more costly.

The P-3C Orion was offered to Taiwan by Mr. George Bush in April 2001, but the cost of reopening manufacturer Lockheed Martin's assembly line would be US$300 million per plane.

Taiwan's current fleet is the S-2 aircraft. They were upgraded by Northrop Grumman and entered service as S-2Ts with the Taiwanese navy in 1990. However, they have been in service for 40 years and are in dire condition.

Another alternative would be to refurbish P-3B airframes, at an estimated US$66 million per plane. But price and capabilities make the purchase of the C-27J Spartan most favourable.

The C-27J is a medium-sized military transport developed by Lockheed Martin Alenia Tactical Transport Systems that requires only short take-off and landing runways.

Another appeal of the C-27J is that Taiwan's state-owned Aerospace Industrial Development Corp constructs the horizontal and vertical tail assemblies for the aircraft.

Foreign military experts have advised Taiwan to beef up its anti-submarine capabilities to defend herself against China's Russia-built Kilo-class submarines.