The Birth of the Hai Kun
Taiwan is gearing up for the launch of its first domestically-built submarine, the Hai Kun (SS-711). The launching ceremony, set for September 28 at CSBC Corporation’s Kaohsiung shipyard, will be presided over by President Tsai Ing-wen. The submarine has completed its hull construction and painting work and will commence its harbor acceptance test on October 1, with completion expected by April 1, 2024.
Strengthening the Fleet
Admiral Huang Shu-kuang, the chief of the general staff and convener of the Indigenous Defense Submarine (IDS) program, has expressed hopes that the Navy will take delivery of its first indigenously produced submarine by the end of 2024. The Hai Kun will be armed with MK-48 torpedoes. Seven more submarines will be produced, augmenting the existing two, for a total fleet of 10 submarines. By 2025, three submarines, including two aging Chien Lung Class submarines and one indigenous submarine, should be ready for duty. If the second new submarine is completed on schedule, Taiwan's fleet of submarines should reach four by 2027.
A Strategic Defense
The primary task of Taiwan's submarines will be to contain Chinese forces to the first island chain, preventing them from entering the Pacific and encircling Taiwan. The Hai Kun's name, inspired by "Free and Easy Wandering," the first chapter of Chinese philosopher Chuang-Tzu's eponymous work, symbolizes being "mysterious and elusive." Since taking office in 2016, President Tsai has prioritized domestically produced military aircraft, ships, vehicles, and other projects, with the local manufacture of submarines being a top priority. The IDS program strengthens Taiwan's defense industry and enhances the country's asymmetric warfare capabilities by deterring Chinese carrier groups from blockading Taiwan.
Boosting National Defense
Since President Tsai took office in 2016, she has advocated for numerous national defense policies focused on the domestic military production of aircraft, submarines, ships, and vehicles. These moves not only strengthen Taiwan's defense industry but also boost the country's defensive capabilities. The Republic of China Navy is currently grappling with looming threats from China and is battling to create a force structure to handle these threats. The focus on domestic production and the prioritization of submarine production underscores Taiwan's commitment to enhancing its defense capabilities.