Taiwan’s $1.5 Billion Indigenous Submarine Prototype Set for Final Tests

Taiwan’s maiden indigenous submarine prototype will begin the final round of harbor acceptance tests on Tuesday.

The Narwhal prototype will be moved to a floating dock before being shifted to a dry dock for the tests, Taiwan’s national news agency reported.

These include an inclining test to determine the vessel’s stability and its center of gravity, the outlet added.

The Narwhal has been undergoing harbor acceptance tests since October at a factory in Kaohsiung.

Afterward, it will undergo sea acceptance tests and be handed over to the Taiwanese Navy before the end of 2024.

Earlier, it was reported that the harbor acceptance tests would take place by May 20 — when the current term of President Tsai Ing-wen ends.

However, the outlet reported that no deadline had been set.

President Tsai launched the vessel in September to bolster Taiwan’s defenses against China.

Eight indigenous submarines will be built to replace four older vessels, with the first expected to begin service in 2025.

The $1.5 billion underwater platform has a displacement of 2,500 to 3,000 tons.

It features combat systems and torpedoes from Lockheed Martin.

“The submarine will have a fairly significant impact on Taiwan’s defense strategy,” said US-based independent analyst Ben Lewis.

“The biggest risk is to the PLA’s (People’s Liberation Army’s) amphibious assault and troop transport capabilities,” he told AFP, referring to China’s military.

“They have practiced extensively the use of civilian vessels to augment their existing troop delivery platforms, and a submarine could wreak havoc on vessels not designed for naval warfare.”

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