Taiwan’s Hunter killer submarines are first line of defense against Chinese invasion

Key components of Taiwan’s first domestically developed attack submarine have been revealed for the first time in new images.

The $1.5 billion diesel-powered warship made waves after its unveiling ceremony on September 28, 2023. However, its torpedo tubes, sonar equipment, and other parts were obscured at the time by a massive Taiwan flag.

The first-in-its-class Hai Kun (Narwhal) submarine was the first of eight such vessels to be constructed by Taiwan shipbuilder CSBC Corporation. The program is part of Taiwan’s renewed focus on defense against the backdrop of increasing Chinese military activity in the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait.

China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, despite the fact the Chinese Communist Party government has never ruled on the island.

The latest photos were snapped as the Hai Kun sat in its shipyard in the southern port city of Kaohsiung and as it was moved to a floating dock on Tuesday as it wraps up harbor acceptance testing. After that, it will continue on to its sea acceptance test, local media reported.

“The images tell you some information about the boat’s hydrodynamic ability—the shape, rudder and configuration of the steering plane. You can also spot various sonars,” Collin Koh, senior fellow at the Singaporean S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies think tank’s Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, told Global Defense Corp.

In a thread on X (formerly Twitter), Koh highlighted the torpedo tubes in the Hai Kun’s bow and the sonar array and torpedo countermeasure dispenser systems on its flanks.

Also clearly visible is the X-shaped configuration of the stern, which can reduce drag as well as the boat’s overall noise signature.

Though the press was not allowed to get close on Tuesday, and some hardware is still being kept under wraps for security purposes.

Koh believes the Taiwanese government moved the boat into the floating dock in plain view as a display of accountability and to assure the public that the process is carrying on safely as planned.

“But it also helps to project deterrence signals to would-be adversaries—that would be China. You leave the Chinese guessing further about the sub and its real capabilities,” Koh said.

Newsweek reached out the U.S. embassy in Washington, D.C. via written request for comment.

Koh added that the international community is also a target audience, particularly Taiwan’s largest arms supplier and security guarantor the United States.

“It’s important to show that you have been making progress with your defense self-reliance; and therefore if you self-help, you deserve help in the future,” he said.

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