A model of the Taiwan's indigenous Clouded Leopard armored vehicle. Photo: Handout
A model of the Taiwan's indigenous Clouded Leopard armored vehicle. Photo: Handout

Prototypes of an armored vehicle developed by Taiwan have passed tests and will soon enter mass production and will form the bulwark of the resistance by ground forces against the Chinese army in the event of an invasion, said an official with the island’s Defense Ministry.

Taiwan newspapers reported that four prototypes of the Clouded Leopard eight-wheel armored vehicle series equipped with a 30mm chain gun had passed tests in 62 categories conducted by the ministry’s Armaments Bureau this month.

However, the results of two subtests were not satisfactory and were pending analyses. Still, a total of 284 vehicles are expected to be made in the coming years to form battalions to defend Taipei, Kaohsiung, Taichung and other urban centers.

It was also reported that Taiwan had ordered Orbital ATK 30mm Mk44 Bushmaster II cannons from the Virginia-based Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems to be mounted on the new armored vehicles.

A prototype turret built on this requirement was spotted in May 2015 and unveiled to the public in August 2017. Compared with the army’s existing CM-32 models armed with 40mm automatic grenade launchers, the 30mm cannon offers better anti-tank capabilities and precision firing.

An infantry fighting vehicle variant with a two-man turret is also slated for mass production in the near future. In addition to the infantry carriers, other planned variants include command vehicles, reconnaissance vehicles and mortar carriers, which can be configured with either an 81mm or 120mm mortar.

The Defense Ministry stressed that the mass production of the new indigenous armored vehicles would complement the M1A2 tanks being procured from the United States. In July, the military announced plans to allocate NT$30 billion (US$969.4 million) to procure 108 M1A2 tanks from the US.

Taiwan had considered purchasing up to 200 M1A2 tanks, but settled on 120 second-hand M1A1 tanks for funding reasons.

In July this year, Taiwan purchased 108 M1A2 tanks from the US to replace its aging CM-11 Brave Tiger and M60A3 TTS battle tanks.