TechTaiwan constructs light frigates in reaction to Chinese Threat

Taiwan constructs light frigates in reaction to Chinese Threat

The corvette Ta Chiang, the second in the series of Tuo Chiang type ships.
The corvette Ta Chiang, the second in the series of Tuo Chiang type ships.
Images source: © Taipei Times
10:52 AM EST, November 23, 2023

Taiwan has initiated the construction of two pilot, lightweight frigates. These unconventional stealth-adherent ships have been tailored for various objectives: one for air defense and the other for submarine warfare. This step is part of a strategic plan to build naval forces that can resist a potential attack from China.

The formal commencement of the construction of these two vessels also signifies the launch of the New Generation Light Frigate program. Established in 2019, the program aims to build 12 light frigates in diverse configurations: for anti-aircraft purposes, to counter submarines (ASW), as well as to resist enemy surface ships.

The initial two lightweight frigates will be configured for anti-aircraft and submarine warfare purposes, and are forecasted to be operational by 2026, as stated. The ceremonial keel-laying for both vessels at the Shyn Shipbuilding Co. shipyard took place in the attendance of Taiwan's top officials, including President Tsai Ing-wen.

The new ships are known as "light frigates" in Taiwan due to their compact displacement, similar to corvette-class units. These vessels are projected to have hulls that are 377 feet long with a total displacement of roughly 3000 tons. As inferred from the design, they will be built with stealth considerations in mind and controlled by the CMS 330 (Combat Management System 330).

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The ships will be equipped with a 76 mm Leonardo OTO Melara 76/62 Super Rapid Strales gun and the Sea Oryx missile defense system, among other items. Room has been assigned on the stern for a hanger and landing pad for an MH-60 Seahawk helicopter.

The primary distinctions between the light frigate versions concern the number of Hsiung Feng II/III anti-ship missile launchers and H2 anti-aircraft missile launchers - significantly higher in the anti-aircraft version.

In contrast, the ASW vessel features fewer launchers, allowing the allocation of necessary space for submarine detection and engagement systems.

Plan for Taiwan's Naval Expansion

The planned construction of 12 light frigates is the following step in Taiwan's fleet expansion program.

Contrary to previous decades where Taiwan bought ready-made ships from overseas, the current approach entails independent construction by the Taiwanese industry of progressively larger and technologically advanced vessels. The fleet is anticipated to be capable of thwarting a potential mainland invasion and responding to threats from China below the brink of war.

The undertaking of building light frigates is the next step in this plan, which was started after the completion of six Tuo Chiang-type corvettes (out of a planned 12) and the expected completion of the Hai Kun submarine in September 2023, which was designed and is being constructed by Taiwan (the first of eight).

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