Taiwan to buy more indigenous armament
Taiwanese-manufactured weapons such as lightweight rocket launchers will complement heavy weapons bought from the US. The Marine Corps of the Taiwanese Army, the island’s military police and the coast guard are all considering placing large orders for weapons produced in Taiwan, as reported by the Asia Times.
Kestrel anti-armor missile system designed and manufactured inTaiwan (Picture source: Youtube)
Among the weapons taken into consideration are the man-portable Kestrel antitank missile launchers developed by the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, a key national lab under the Defense Ministry’s Armaments Bureau. The Taiwanese military tends to favor foreign weapons systems with proven combat performance, especially those from the US, due to both operational reasons and a lack of faith in the reliability of the homemade alternatives. It took the Kestrel system years to gain trust from the marines, the Taipei Times reported, and was inspired after the corps placed a small order with the Chungshan Institute due to urgent operational needs.
Now the Military Police Command has set aside almost NT$50 million (US$1.63 million) out of its budget for the next financial year to purchase 445 such launchers – among them, 279 training launchers and eight simulators – to arm units tasked with defending Taipei. The corresponding figures for the Coast Guard Administration are NT$11.12 million for 84 launchers and 88 simulators for the use of the battalions garrisoned on the Taiwan-controlled Pratas and Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
As a weapon designed to be operated by a single soldier, the Kestrel’s tactical role is similar to that of the American M72, which is a light, mobile weapon for infantry soldiers. The TOW-2A/B anti-tank guided missile launcher – the military’s other standard-issue anti-armor weapon bought from the US – boosts greater lethal power and a longer range, but it is heavier and typically mounted on vehicles or attack helicopters.