Taiwan’s impending tank boost

The RoCA is hoping to replace its ageing M48b and M60 tanks with the M1A2 Abrams.

An initial batch of the Republic of China Army’s (RoCA’s) fleet of M60A3 main battle tanks (MBTs) is set to be upgraded under a NT$444 million contract awarded to the state-run National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST). The contract was announced via the Taiwanese government’s procurement website on 9 March.

Forty M60A3 MBTs will receive enhancements to their main gun, ballistic fire control computer and sighting systems, centring on the replacement of the original 105 mm M68 rifled gun with a 120 mm smoothbore cannon as well as upgrades to the turret’s hydraulic system for the turret and associated electrical systems.

Upgraded tanks are expected to be redelivered in batches by October 2025.

The initial effort will determine whether the remainder of the RoCA’s M60A3 fleet – understood to comprise a total of 460 ex-US Army surplus tanks – will be upgraded. The type was originally acquired from 1995 through 2000 and are outmatched by modern tanks.

The RoCA also operates a large fleet of CM-11 Brave Tiger (hybrid M60 MBTs with M48 turrets) as well as CM-12 (updated M48A3 MBTs) platforms.

Preparatory work is also well under way for the anticipated delivery of the first batch of General Dynamics M1A2T Abrams MBTs in 2024.

Taiwanese outlet Liberty Times reported that the RoCA’s Army Command has outlined in its 2022 budget report that it plans to carry out a four-year, NT$91.77 million construction project to build hardened shelters to increase the survivability of the new tanks in the advent of an attack by the mainland.

The service will also reportedly spend NT$450.79 million to develop necessary infrastructure for the M1A2T MBT force, including a live-firing range, maintenance dept, and driving training area at Armor Training Command in Hsinchu. Work is expected to be carried out from 2022-2023.

In July 2019, the US State Department approved the sale of 108 M1A2T MBTs, 16 M88A2 Hercules armoured recovery vehicles, 16 M1070A1 Heavy Equipment Transporters (HET), ammunition, and related equipment worth an estimated total of US$2 billion to Taiwan.

by Jr Ng