The 10,600-tonne Yu Shan, named after Taiwan’s tallest mountain, is the latest part of President Tsai Ing-wen’s ambitious program to modernize the armed forces amid pressure from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The CCP sees Taiwan as a part of its territory and has threatened war to bring the island into its fold. The self-ruled island is a de facto independent country with its own democratically elected government, military, constitution, and currency.
Built by state-backed CSBC Corporation Taiwan, the ship will enter service next year, and will be armed with a cannon for use against air and surface targets, anti-aircraft missiles and rapid-fire Phalanx close-in anti-aircraft and anti-missile guns.
Formally naming the new ship in the southern port city of Kaohsiung, Tsai said it represented a “milestone” in Taiwan’s indigenous warship-building plans.
“I believe that this ship will certainly strengthen to navy’s ability to fulfill its mission and further solidify our defenses,” she said.
CSBC Chairman Cheng Wen-lung said as well as being an amphibious warfare vessel, with space for landing craft and helicopters, it will be used for transport to Taiwan’s possessions in the disputed South China Sea and offshore Taiwanese islands which lie close to the Chinese coast, long considered easy targets for the Chinese regime in the event of war.
“During wartime it will have an amphibious warfare mission, bringing in reinforcements and fighting to retake offshore islands,” he added.
The ship has a “stealthy exterior” and electromagnetic pulse protection, Cheng said.
“It can carry out various battle missions on its own out at sea for a long time.”
While Taiwan’s air force has benefited from big-ticket items like new and upgraded F-16s, the navy is Tsai’s next focus, with submarines in production and a launch last year of the first of a fleet of highly manoeuvrable stealth corvettes.
The new Tuo Chiang-class corvettes have been dubbed by Taiwan’s navy the “aircraft carrier killer” due to its complement of anti-ship missiles. It can also carry Sky Sword anti-aircraft missiles.
Tsai has bolstered the domestic arms industry to try to make Taiwan as self-sufficient as possible.
By Ben Blanchard
Epoch Times staff contributed to this report