M1A2 Abrams main battle tank Photo: Handout
M1A2 Abrams main battle tank Photo: Handout

Taiwan’s defense ministry may be on a spending spree. It has reportedly earmarked part of next year’s NT$346 billion (US$11.2 billion) defense budget for the purchase of more than 100 M1A2 Abrams battle tanks from the US. Also planned are 60 missile attack boats to be built by domestic shipbuilders.

The third-generation Abrams tanks, highly mobile despite weighing 62 tons, are designed for modern armored ground warfare. Notable features include powerful multifuel turbine engines, sophisticated composite armor, and separate ammunition storage using a blow-out compartment to help increase crew safety.

The Abrams is the main battle tank of the United States Army and Marine Corps, and is also used by the armies of Egypt, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and Iraq.

Taiwan had at one point considered purchasing up to 200 brand new M1A2 tanks, but then settled on approximately 120 used ones due to funding constraints according to reports by the island’s papers.

However in July 2018, it was announced that, after reviewing all options, Taiwan sought to purchase 108 brand new M1A2 tanks from the US. The new Abrams tanks are to replace its aging CM-11 Brave Tiger battle tanks. Details of shipments and delivery dates are yet to be announced.

The M1A2 model that Taiwan has chosen is a further improvement of the series with a commander’s independent thermal viewer, weapon station, positional navigation equipment, and a full set of controls and displays linked by a digital data bus. Upgrades also provide the M1A2 with an improved fire control system.

As for the new fleet of indigenous missile boats, their reported virtue is their small size, which can enable them to navigate into small ports with greater ease while carrying two Hsiung Feng IIE missiles, according to the defense ministry.

These boats can be camouflaged as civilian fishing boats and will provide the navy with a highly mobile platform for launching missiles that could be used for naval attack sorties.

Read more: Taiwan plans ‘asymmetric tactics’ to counter PLA

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