September 29, 2004


U.S. to build 8 subs in deal with Taiwan (Sharon Behn, 9/29/04, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

The United States plans to build eight diesel-electric submarines for Taiwan as part of an $18 billion arms package, a decision likely to irritate China, which has opposed the sale of weapons to Taipei.

Taiwan's new representative to the United States, David Tawei Lee, said yesterday that the submarines would be built "probably in Mississippi, in [former Senate Majority Leader] Trent Lott's state."

Oh, that's why...

Meanwhile, wasn't it just months ago that the reflexive Right was claiming that the Bush Administration was selling out Taiwan to appease China?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 29, 2004 4:03 PM

Mr. Judd;

Someone's thinking. Diesel-electrics are the best choice for costal defense. It would greatly complicate any invasion while not making much difference for more distant neighbors.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 29, 2004 6:58 PM

And we can't "just give them ours".

The USN doesn't use diesel-electric submarines.
All subs in American service are long-range nuke boats. Not only are they unsuited for Taiwan's short-range island-defense operations, we're very leery of letting nuclear anything out of our hands.

Posted by: Ken at September 29, 2004 7:17 PM

Several European countries have advanced diesel-electric submarines in production, and sell them worldwide. The original plan was for the US to subcontract the work to one of them. However, none are willing to cross Beijing.

It will be interesting to see if we can guess which one secretly sold us the design, since we don't have modern designs...

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at September 29, 2004 7:34 PM


Give 'em nukes and the boats--assuming they don't already have them.

Posted by: oj at September 29, 2004 7:57 PM

AOG has it right; diesel subs are actually better than nuclear for the task of sinking the invasion fleet just off your coast. (Less range, but cheaper and quieter).

Posted by: mike earl at September 29, 2004 9:36 PM

The German Type 209 diesel-electric sub is the world's most popular, among nations that don't build their own. That's where one might start, when guessing who's providing the plans.

Are submarines really the best way to defend an island against a naval attack ?
Eight German Type 209s would likely cost about $ 2.5 billion.
For that much jack, one could purchase 3500 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, with a range of 100 miles; 1700 Penguin anti-ship missiles, with a range of 40 miles, but a top speed of Mach 1.2; or 1250 Harpoon cruise missiles, anti-ship configuration, with a range of 675 miles.

China's Navy has 61 subs, 23 destroyers, 40 frigates, and 20 large landing ships, as well as 400 or so smaller vessels.

As Argentina showed during the '82 Falklands War, even a completely out-classed military can hurt a world-class navy, using anti-ship missiles.

If Taiwan had 3,500 Harpoons at the ready, the entire Chinese surface fleet would be sunk during the first day of hostilities, regardless of how good their anti-anti-ship missile systems were.

These eight subs are more offensive in nature, to remind Beijing that Taiwan has second-strike capabilities.


Your faith that the US won't ever again have need of a conventional navy is quite touching.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at September 30, 2004 4:00 AM


Anything that forces us to resort more readily to nukes is healthy.

Posted by: oj at September 30, 2004 8:21 AM

Japan and Germany had plenty of diesel-electric subs and it didn't seem to bother US or British landings.

A balanced fleet with adequate bases has always proven to be the key to seapower, and that isn't ever going to change.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 30, 2004 4:25 PM