TAIPEI: Taiwan plans to buy eight second-hand Perry-class frigates from the United States despite improved ties with once-bitter foe China, a local newspaper reported Monday.
The island hopes to arm them with a version of the advanced Aegis Combat System, which uses computers and radar to take out multiple targets, as well as sophisticated missile launch technology, the Taipei-based China Times said.
The defence ministry said in a reaction to the report that ageing frigates now serving the navy needed to be phased out, but that it had not yet decided on the type of vessels that would replace them.
“The overall strategy of the armed forces will be taken into consideration as the defence ministry evaluates the plan,” it said in a statement, adding that the budget would be another factor to be weighed.
The United States designed the Perry-class frigates in the 1970s but the majority remain in service, equipped with various forms of modern technology.
The deal would add to Taiwan’s existing inventory, as it already has eight Perry-class frigates built on the island.
The China Times report came less than a week after the US Defense Department said it had approved the sale of Patriot missile equipment to Taiwan as part of a package passed by Congress more than a year ago.
When unveiled in 2008, the package triggered strong protests from Beijing, which considers Taiwan part of its territory and has vowed to take the island back, by force if necessary.
The United States is the leading arms supplier to self-ruled Taiwan, even though it switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.
Ties between Taipei and Beijing have improved markedly since China-friendly Ma Ying-jeou came to power in 2008, promising to boost trade ties and allowing in more Chinese tourists.