The submarine fleet of Taiwan has dwindled and it has embarked on a project to design and manufacture diesel-electric submarines under the “Indigenous Defense Submarines” program. Taiwan sought American technology for this purpose and earlier this year, the United States State Department approved the transfer of technology that will allow Taiwan to produce its own submarines for purposes of national defence. This is not the main news.
The main news, as reported by the Taiwan Times on 10 July 2018, says that six foreign companies have submitted preliminary design proposals to assist Taiwan in making it submarines. Amongst these six, is a mysterious Indian Group. Mysterious because nothing much has been mentioned in the news piece about this group. It is qualified by only one sentence – “The Indian team has experience with the diesel submarines in service in the Indian Navy”. The Taiwan Times, in turn, quotes a “Liberty Times” that is unfortunately in Chinese.
Nevertheless, the news item has been picked by international publications and reproduced ad verbatim. This includes “The National Interest” and “The Diplomat”. None of the publications have added any new information of their own but have simply quoted the Taiwan Times piece. None of the Indian publications have picked it up.
It is definitely not clear as to which is this Indian team, with experience with diesel-electric submarines in the Indian Navy, that has submitted the preliminary proposal. It is all the more intriguing since India has not designed a diesel-electric submarine for itself as yet. Some have speculated that it might be a proposal from Larsen & Toubro since it has certain experience in this field. However, there are other sources on social media who have stated that this news report is from a journalist known to be a ‘serial offender’ in circulating fake news.
The other contenders are two American, two European and one Japanese group. As per the Taiwan Times, the Ministry of National Defense and US contractors will be involved in choosing the preliminary design before moving on to drafting detailed blueprints, since design must be practical and capable of integrating the technology being transferred from the USA. Once a preliminary design has been selected from among the proposals, the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense, as well as those in the shipbuilding and defense industries will begin work on developing and fleshing out the designs, with construction to begin before 2020.