Two ex-US Navy Frigates Boost Taiwan’s Anti-Submarine Warfare Capability vs. China
The Republic of China (Taiwan) last week took ownership of two refurbished U.S. Navy Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates optimized for anti-submarine warfare.
The two decommissioned U.S. Navy frigates now part of the Republic of China Navy (ROCN) are the ex-USS Taylor (FFG-50) and the ex-USS Gary (FFG-51). Both frigates were commissioned into the U.S. Navy in 1984 and decommissioned in 2015.
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They are to be commissioned into the ROCN in 2018. Acquiring the frigates cost Taiwan some $190 million.
Among the equipment on both warships is the AN/SQR-19 Multi-Function Towed Array Sonar (TACTAS) used for hunting down submarines. TACTAS, which provides very long-range passive detection of enemy submarines, is a long cable full of microphones towed about a mile behind a warship.
Taiwan was previously blocked from acquiring the AN/SQR-19. The retention of the system onboard both warships ships confirms an anti-submarine role in line with the Knox-class frigates (which are also ex-U.S. Navy vessels) they will replace in the ROCN.
ROCN operates six Knox-class frigates, all of which serve in an anti-submarine warfare (ASuW) role.
The Taylor and Gary were reactivated in Charleston, South Carolina by VSE Corporation, a technical services company based in Virginia.
ROCN's other main surface combatants include four Kidd-class guided missile destroyers (also ex-U.S. Navy) and are called the Kee Lung-class. RoCN also operates six French La Fayette-class frigates (FL-3000) and eight license-built Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates.
These warships are fitted with the indigenous Hsiung-Feng II anti-ship missiles (AShM), and will eventually include the hypersonic HF-3.
Taiwan looks to double the range of its formidable HF-3 hypersonic anti-ship missile so this missile can destroy invasion forces of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) that might invade Taiwan before 2020.
The exact top speed of the HF-3 is unknown, but some experts believe to be in excess of Mach 10 (12,000 km/h). The HF-3 can carry a nuclear warhead.
A speed this fast would make the HF-3 faster than India's BrahMos (touted as the world's fastest anti-ship cruise missile) with a speed of Mach 3 (3,700 km/h) and China's 3M-80MBE anti-ship missile, also with a speed of Mach 3.