Taiwan has accepted a $286.6 million arms deal involving 13 sets of Phalanx close-in weapons systems (CIWS) and other equipment from the United States, according to local media reports. The new weapons systems will be used for the defense of Republic of China Navy (ROCN) surface warships and Republic of China Armed Forces (RCAF) missile bases in Taiwan’s mountainous regions.
According to a source within Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense, Taiwan agreed to the purchase in July, following Taipei’s consent to procure 36 U.S.-made Assault Amphibious Vehicles (AAV) in May, and two decommissioned Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigates in March, slated to replace existing Knox-class destroyers. The delivery of the Phalanx CIWIS is expected to be completed by 2024.
The Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigates will be fitted the “MK-92 Mod 6 fire control system, the SQQ- 89V(9) anti-submarine warfare system, the MK-75 76mm gun system, Phalanx 20mm CIWS (Block 18), MK-13 guided missile launching system (GMLS), AN/SLQ-32 electronic warfare system, SPS-49 radar, SQR-19 towed array sonar and SQS-56 sonar,” naval-technology.com reports.
The entire U.S. arms package is estimated at around S 1.83 billion. As The Diplomat reported previously, the Obama White House notified U.S. Congress of the new arms sale in December 2015—the first major arms sale to Taiwan in four years. Next to the Phalanx CIWIS, the two guided missile frigates, and the AAVs, the deal also included Javelin and TOW 2B anti-tank missiles, and Stinger surface-to-air missiles, among other things.
“This Foreign Military Sales package supports Taiwan’s efforts to develop more innovative and asymmetric defensive capabilities,” David McKeeby, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, told The Diplomat last December. “Today’s notification is consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, and our support for Taiwan’s ability to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.”
The U.S. State Department approved the sale of Phalanx CIWIS in December 2015 under $ 416 million contract that included 13 MK 15 Phalanx Block 1B Baseline 2 CIWIS guns, eight CIWS Block 1 Baseline 0 to Block 1B Baseline 2 upgrade kit, and 260,000 rounds of 20mm MK 244 MOD 0 Armor-Piercing Discarding Sabots (APDS).
The Phalanx’s radar-guided 20-milimeter gun “automatically detects, evaluates, tracks, engages and performs kill assessment against ASM (anti-ship missiles) and high speed aircraft threats,” according to the US Navy. The variant sold to Taiwan “adds the ability to counter asymmetric warfare threats through the addition of an integrated, stabilized, Electro Optic sensor. These improvements give Phalanx the added ability to counter small high speed surface craft, aircraft, helicopters and unmanned aerial systems (UAS).”
The source within Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense confirmed that the new Phalanx CIWIS will be more advanced than the Phalanx systems currently in use with the RCAF. The ROCN is currently only operating one older Phalanx CIWIS aboard a Kidd-class (Kee-Lung-class) destroyer.