The combat capabilities of Taiwan’s domestically built Hai Kun (海鯤號), or “Narwhal,” submarine are slightly superior to Japan’s submarines, a retired Japanese military officer said.
Kazuki Yano, a former submarine fleet commander in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, made the comment in a TV program produced by BS Nippon Corp and aired earlier this month.
Rira Momma, a professor of security studies at Takushoku University’s Institute of World Studies, was also invited to join the program.
Seven countries are involved in the construction of the Hai Kun, including members of the AUKUS alliance, Yano said, describing it as the result of cooperation among the US’ allies.
Despite pressure from China, these allies have shown a strong will to help Taiwan build its own submarine, which is “of great military significance,” he said.
Regarding rumors that a legislator passed classified material about the submarine program to South Korea, Momma said that information leakage would be Taiwan’s weakness.
Intelligence related to the Hai Kun being leaked to an enemy would be “fatal,” as it might put an end to assistance Taiwan was getting from other countries such as the US and Australia, he said.
However, Yano said that countries providing relevant technologies to Taiwan were aware, to a certain extent, that the technologies and intelligence would be leaked to China sooner or later.
He thought that the Hai Kun is “slightly better than Japan’s submarines” but could have been “very good,” he said.
The Hai Kun is equipped with a combat system developed by Lockheed Martin Corp, which might be a simplified version used by US nuclear submarines, and a sophisticated sonar system that can detect objects in all directions, he said.
The US might have provided Taiwan with lower-performance technologies instead of the latest ones out of concerns that they might be leaked, Yano said.
Building a submarine is hugely meaningful, as it shows Taiwan’s firm self-defense determination, he said, adding that the advantages that submarines offer could negate Beijing’s “anti-access/area denial” strategy and make it hesitant about launching a war against Taiwan, he said.
Completing one submarine can already enhance deterrence, as China would have to put in more effort to guard against its sneak attacks, he said.
The Hai Kun would become Taiwan’s “ace” and “secret weapon,” as it would take time and effort to detect it, Momma said.
The Democratic Progressive Party government announced the completion of the Hai Kun ahead of the presidential election on Jan. 13 next year to underline its determination to safeguard Taiwan, he said.
The involvement of the US, Australia, and possibly Japan and South Korea, in the submarine construction could further reassure Taiwanese voters, Momma said.
The cost of the Hai Kun, at approximately NT$230 billion (US$7.14 billion), is unprecedented for a conventional submarine, which might provide clues to its possible equipment, Yano said.
The cost of building a Japanese submarine is about NT$75 billion.
Source : TaipeiTimes