Sunday 26 March 2023

Fortress Taiwan: Listing AFVs In Service With The Republic Of China

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans

The Taiwanese Army has historically received the least amount of funding out of the Taiwanese Armed Forces' three main service branches. With a yearly budget of only $19 billion (in 2023), the Taiwanese Ministry of Defence (MoD) is forced to prioritise investments in the country's air force and navy to have some chance in keeping up with China's rapid military build-up. As the Taiwanese Army will enter combat only after Chinese forces have already landed on Taiwan or one of the various island groups off China's coast, the priority for the Taiwanese Armed Forces has been to establish a viable deterrent and realistic wartime capabilities through the acquisition of weapons systems like fighter jets, anti-ship missiles and air defence systems to deter China from carrying out an amphibious landing in the first place.

While these investments have resulted in a number of highly advanced indigenous weapons systems tailored to Taiwan's defensive needs, such as the Hsiung Feng III AShM and the Tien Kung III SAM system, the Taiwanese MoD has largely shied away from investing in conventional military equipment such as AFVs and SPGs as a result. The majority of the vehicle and equipment inventory of the Taiwanese Army and Marine Corps on first glance appears little different from that of the U.S. Army of the 1970s or early 1980s. Despite the recent purchase of a number of modern assets from the United States (108 M1A2T Abrams MBTs in 2019 and 29 M142 HIMARS in 2020 and 2022) and from local production lines, Taiwan is still facing widespread obsolescence throughout the ranks of its equipment inventory.

Most notably, the primary MBTs of the Republic of China Army (ROCA) and Republic of China Marine Corps (ROCMC) are some 450 CM-11s of indigenous manufacture and 460 second-hand M60A3TTS' purchased from the U.S. in the 1990s. The CM-11 is a joint U.S.-Taiwanese design dating from the late 1980s that combines the hull of a M60A3 with a M48A3 turret, which now houses the fire control system (FCS) and 105mm M68A1 gun of the first production M1 Abrams variant. The ROCA has attempted to increase their armour protection through the installation of explosive reactive armour (ERA), but weight issues appear to have prevented a widespread introduction. The M60A3TTS continues to operate in its unmodified form, but a limited upgrade that is to see the fitting of a new engine and FCS is planned for the coming years. The CM-12s and M41Ds that complete the Taiwanese tank inventory will likely be retired after the delivery of the M1A2T Abrams.

To transport infantry around the island of 23 million people, Taiwan commenced the development of an indigenous variant of the M113 APC in the 1980s. The resulting design, known as the CM-21, has since served as the basis for a number of specialised variants, including a mortar carrier, artillery tractor, command vehicle and TOW ATGM carrier. Rather than replacing or even supplementing the CM-21 with a new tracked design, the ROCA has ordered a total of 305 CM-34 wheeled infantry fighting vehicles (the first IFVs to enter service with Taiwan) and 650 CM-32 wheeled APCs (seen in the header image) to increase the firepower and mobility of its mechanised infantry brigades. The design of the CM-32/34 will also serve as the basis of a new 105mm mobile gun system, trading in protection for much increased mobility. It's likely that this system will wind up replacing the M41Ds and some of the ROCA's older-generation MBTs in addition to the M1A2T Abrams being delivered.

More than 200 155mm M109A2 and M109A5 self-propelled guns (SPGs) provide mobile fire-support to the Taiwanese Army. The 155mm M114 towed howitzer and its indigenous version the T-65, are nowadays considered to be completely obsolete. An attempt to acquire 40 M109A6 SPGs under a $750 million Foreign Military Sale (FMS) in 2021 was halted after the U.S. government informed Taiwan that the M109A6s could not be delivered until 2026 due to production bottlenecks. The plan for their acquisition was dropped in favour of an additional 18 M142 HIMARS on top of the 11 HIMARS already ordered in 2020. The ROCA also operates 43 RT/LT-2000 'Thunderbolt-2000' MRLs which can be fitted with two to three rocket pods for either 117mm, 180mm or 227mm rockets. Heavier tube artillery continues to see use as well; most notably including the 155mm M1 field gun, the 203mm M115 howitzer, the 203mm M110A2 SPG and even four massive 240mm M1 howitzers installed in bunkers on the Kinmen and Matsu Islands off the coast of China.

This list attempts to list all AFV types currently in service with the Taiwanese Armed Forces. This list only includes vehicles and equipment currently confirmed to be in service with or on order by the Taiwanese Armed Forces. Radars, trucks and jeeps are not included in the list.
(Click on the vehicle or equipment type to get a picture of them)

Main Battle Tanks

Light Tanks

  • 50 M41D (Most in reserve)

Tank Destroyers

Armoured Fighting Vehicles

  • 300 V-150 (Most in reserve)

Infantry Fighting Vehicles


Armoured Personnel Carriers


Amphibious Assault Vehicles

Infantry Mobility Vehicles (IMVs)


Light Strike Vehicles (LSVs)


Military Engineering Vehicles


Command Vehicles


Self-Propelled Mortars

Towed Artillery


Self-Propelled Artillery

Multiple Rocket Launchers

Short-Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBMs)

  • Tien Chi 'Sky Spear' [Range: 300km]
  • M57 ATACMS (On order) [Range: 300km]

Ground-Launched Cruise Missiles (GLCMs)

Coastal Defence Missile (CDS) Systems

Towed Anti-Aircraft Guns


Self-Propelled SAM Systems


Static SAM Systems

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