(RightWing.org) – The situation between Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) remains volatile. The recent decision by Taiwanese voters to snub the PRC and elect a pro-independence party candidate to head the country again didn’t help, nor has the distraction of the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War and the bloody fighting between Israel and Hamas. Taiwan officials recently unveiled a new naval weapons system amid these mounting tensions.
On January 25, Newsweek published an article detailing the Taiwan Navy’s recent efforts to construct a fleet of frigates. The news agency’s Taiwan-based reporter noted that naval officers plan to develop some of those vessels to use cutting-edge technology capable of tracking submarines.
On its face, that may not seem a particularly noteworthy project. However, the British Royal Navy’s official newspaper, Navy News, recently issued a report previewing some of the impressive capabilities of the Taiwan Navy’s new light anti-submarine warfare (ASW) ships.
Project coordinators initially envisioned the creation of a 4,500-ton frigate class. However, they quickly decided to construct two 2,500-ton ships instead due to budget constraints and the inability to develop an active electronically scanned (AESA) radar array suitable for use on a vessel with a hull size that large.
Citing Taiwan’s official news agency, Navy News reported that the project began in November 2023. At that time, Taiwan started constructing an anti-air warfare (AAW) version of the frigate. But, on January 16, developers began building the ASW variant.
The ASW variant will use fixed-angle launching systems for surface air missiles (SAMs), while the AAW variants will be capable of firing SAMs from vertical systems. Both versions will be equipped with S-70C ASW helicopters, 76mm cannons, HF-3 anti-ship missiles, and the CMS-330 Combat Management System.
The Taiwan Navy hopes to take delivery of those first two prototype frigates in 2026. Then, they plan to construct 10 of those new AAW and ASW ships. Once those light frigates are in operation, naval officials say they will decommission one of its Knox-class frigates — second-generation ASW escorts that were retired from the United States Navy shortly after the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s.