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Taiwan to produce new armour-piercing ammunition for direct-fire support variant of Cloud Leopard

The 202nd Arsenal munition factory under Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) Armaments Bureau has been awarded a NTD14.02 million (USD498,000) contract to produce armour-piercing rounds for a new direct-fire support variant of the 8Γ—8 Cloud Leopard armoured vehicle.

The factory will produce 105 mm armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot tracers (APFSDS-T) for the 209th Arsenal: the developer of the direct-fire support variant, which will be equipped with 105 mm gun mounted in a turret as part of the β€˜Cheetah Project'.

The contract award comes after the US government approved on 4 December 2020 the sale of two sets of M68A2 low-recoil rifled tank guns to Taiwan that are slated for delivery in September this year. New York-based US Army Watervliet Arsenal is believed to be the manufacturer of the M68A2 guns involved in the sale. Once delivered, the guns are to be mounted on two prototype vehicles and the new nature of APFSDS-Ts will be used to carry out live-fire tests.

According to media reports, the Republic of China Army (RoCA) is expected to procure a total of 200 examples of the direct-fire support variant, which is set to replace the service's ageing M41D light tanks.

Research and development work for this variant began in 2019 and is expected to be completed by 2023, with mass production set to follow soon after.

However, the origins of the requirement can be traced back to 2008, when the MND reported that a turret armed with a 105 mm gun that would arm a Cloud Leopard variant had gone into production. That weapon had been developed by the Institute of Science and Technology and was mounted in a manned turret.

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