Taiwan marked a significant milestone in its defense capabilities by launching a domestically produced submarine named the Haikun.
President Tsai Ing-wen presided over the launch ceremony held in the port city of Kaohsiung, underscoring the importance of this achievement.
The $1.54 billion diesel-electric submarine is set to undergo rigorous testing before being delivered to the Taiwanese navy by the end of 2024.
Notably, Taiwan aims to operate a fleet of 10 submarines, including two older Dutch-made vessels, all equipped with missiles.
The launch of the Haikun comes at a critical juncture in Taiwan’s history, as tensions with China have escalated in recent years.
China considers the self-governing island a renegade province, and Beijing has repeatedly expressed its intention to reclaim Taiwan with military force if necessary.
While most experts believe that an immediate invasion of Taiwan is unlikely, China has ramped up military drills in the Taiwan Strait, heightening concerns.
The Haikun and its upcoming counterparts are critical elements in Taiwan’s defense strategy to deter aggression.
Taiwan’s Domestic Submarine Program: A Geopolitical Shift in Defense Strategy
Taiwan’s leaders have long prioritized building their submarines, viewing them as essential for deterring encirclement or naval blockade attempts by China.
These submarines also play a crucial role in buying time until support from the United States and Japan arrives during a conflict.
The decision to develop domestic submarines gained momentum during President Tsai Ing-wen’s tenure, during which military spending nearly doubled.
The United States and several other countries, including the UK, provided vital support, supplying components, technology, and expertise for the project.
The Haikun submarine is equipped with a combat system developed by US defense company Lockheed Martin.
It will carry US-made missiles, emphasizing Taiwan’s strong ties with the United States, its chief ally.
Launching Taiwan’s domestically produced submarine is not just about boosting defense capabilities; it represents a significant geopolitical shift.
Multiple countries and companies were willing to support Taiwan’s marquee defense program, signaling international doubt and dissatisfaction with Beijing’s stance on Taiwan.
The submarine’s effectiveness in countering any potential Chinese invasion will depend on how Taiwan deploys it.
While it may not be optimized for a counter-invasion role, it can serve as a deterrent and be used for various strategic purposes, such as disrupting maritime operations and protecting critical assets.
As tensions in the region continue to escalate, the Haikun submarine stands as a symbol of Taiwan’s commitment to defending its sovereignty and its ability to navigate a complex geopolitical landscape.
While the situation remains tense, Taiwan’s determination to bolster its defenses is precise, sending a message to Beijing and the international community that it will not yield to external pressure.