Taiwan's Keelung-class destroyers are retrofitted vessels bought from the US. Photo: WikiMedia
Taiwan's Keelung-class destroyers are retrofitted vessels bought from the US. Photo: WikiMedia

Taiwan’s Navy will upgrade the AN/SLQ-32 electronic warfare system on the force’s four Keelung-class guided missile destroyers. The upgrade, with a price tag of NT$1.99 billion (US$65.24 million), is expected to be completed by 2023.

It would enhance the system’s electronic and mechanical countermeasure capabilities to improve the vessels’ survival rate. The previous version of the electronic warfare systems, V-3, has been in use for 13 years.

Systems aboard destroyers of similar classes in service with the US Navy have already been upgraded to the V-6 variant, and the Pentagon has suggested that Taiwan follow suit, according to the Central News Agency. This follows the Trump administration’s approval in June 2017 to sell AN/SLQ-32 upgrades to the self-ruled island.

The AN/SLQ-32 is a shipboard warfare suite built by Raytheon and Hughes Aircraft Company as the primary electronic warfare system in use by US Navy ships.

The upgrades are to be implemented based on a fixed maintenance schedule to accommodate the needs of defending the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said.

The four Keelung-class guided missile destroyers were originally Kidd-class destroyers that served in the US Navy from 1981 to 1998, before they were sold to Taiwan during the Bush administration in the early 2000s.

They entered service in 2005 after four years of retrofitting with anti-submarine warfare and enhanced anti-aircraft capabilities as well as heavy-duty air-conditioning and other features that made them suitable for the island’s subtropical weather.

It was speculated in 2014 that a marine Sky Bow missile system, now planned for an upcoming shipbuilding program that involves 15 general purpose frigates and three or four air defense destroyers, will also replace the Standard Missile system on these vessels.

The Taiwanese Navy will also purchase 16 Standard Missile 2 Block IIIA surface-to-air missiles from the US to bolster its air defense capabilities, a navy officer said on condition of anonymity.

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