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Taiwan & France ink upgrade deal for La Fayette-class frigates under China's watchful eye.

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to information publihsed by CNA on February 16, 2024, Taiwan and France have inked a contract worth NT$2.49 billion for combat system components and parts to maintain the operational capabilities of Taiwan's Lafayette-class frigates amid increasing military pressures from China.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Taiwanese Kang Ding-class frigate ROCS Kang Ding. (Picture source: ROC Navy)

The procurement, facilitated by Taiwan's Defense Ministry's European procurement group, aims to ensure the frigates remain a potent force against threats, particularly in light of China's continued military maneuvers around Taiwan, including frequent crossings of the median line of the Taiwan Strait and incursions into the southwestern air defense identification zone.

The contract focuses on the supply of essential parts for the ship's combat systems, with the execution period set from January 18, 2021, to January 18, 2023, in Kaohsiung City.

This move is part of Taiwan's broader defense strategy to sustain its naval assets' readiness against potential aggression. The Lafayette-class frigates, originally based on the French Navy's design, are crucial for Taiwan's maritime defense, performing tasks ranging from air defense and anti-submarine operations to convoy escort and surface warfare.

Since the visit of former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, the PRC has intensified its military activities around the island, aiming to establish a "new normal" through persistent presence in the Eastern Theater Command’s maritime areas.

About La Fayette class frigates

The Taiwanese Navy operates the Kang Ding-class frigates, which are based on the French La Fayette-class design. These ships were acquired under a contract with Thales (formerly Thomson CSF) in 1992, with the construction of six vessels arranged.

The assembly of weapons took place in Taiwan, executed by the China SB Corporation at Kaohsiung. The design and capabilities of these frigates cater to a broad range of naval operations, including anti-air warfare (AAW), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and surface warfare missions.

These frigates are equipped with advanced combat data systems, specifically the Thales TACTICOS, and are armed with a variety of weapons including Hsiung Feng II surface-to-surface missiles, Sea Chaparral surface-to-air missiles, Oto Melara 76mm guns, Bofors 40mm guns, and a Phalanx close-in weapon system for point defense.

They also feature a comprehensive suite of sensors and sonars including the Thales DRBV-26D air/surface search radar, Triton G surface search radar, and Spherion B sonar, enhancing their operational capabilities in various threat environments.

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