Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) has secured the support of the island’s cabinet to purchase M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks (MBTs) from the United States to replace some of its older M60A3 and M48H CM11 MBTs.
A Taiwanese defence official was quoted by the China Times newspaper as saying on 9 July that the military will put aside USD990 million for the purchase of 108 M1A2s along with associated ammunition.
Reports say the funding will come from next year’s defence budget.
The official said that if the sale was given the green light, the M1A2s would be deployed into two armoured battalions under the command of the Sixth Army Corps, which is based in Taoyuan, northern Taiwan.
Defence Minister Yen Teh-fa had told the island’s Foreign and National Defense Committee in early May that the tanks are needed to ensure “Taiwan’s combat readiness in the face of increasing threats of military action against the island by China”.
Taiwan first asked the United States to provide M1A2 tanks nearly 18 years ago as part of a request made under the US administration of President George W Bush. Although that sale was approved in 2001, no further action was taken at the time.
Taiwan made similar requests in 2009 and again in 2015 when it requested up to four battalions’ worth of surplus M1A2 tanks that had seen service in Afghanistan and Iraq.
However, the 2015 request was brought into question after lawmakers raised concerns about the operational feasibility of deploying Abrams MBTs in Taiwan due to the island’s coastal wetlands and mountainous interior.
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