Tuesday 8 August 2023

Deterring The Dragon: Listing Taiwanese Arms Acquisitions

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans
With a yearly budget of $19 billion in 2023, Taiwan faces significant challenges in matching the pace of China's ever-expanding military might. Consequently, the country has made strategic decisions to prioritise investments in its air force and navy, recognising the critical role these branches play in defending the island nation. As the Taiwanese Army is set to engage only after Chinese forces have landed on its territory, the Taiwanese Armed Forces' primary objective lies in establishing a robust deterrent to deter China from carrying out an amphibious landing in the first place.

As Taiwan attempts to deter the dragon, it is facing ongoing criticism for pursuing a procurement strategy that favours large naval vessels such as landing platform docks (LPDs) and ocean-going hunter killer submarines over a fleet of midget submarines, fast attack craft (FACs) and additional coastal defence missile systems (CDS). Though many perceive a cross-strait invasion as the biggest threat to Taiwan's security, Taipei is concerned about the possibility of a concerted strategy by China to encircle and isolate the island nation through a naval blockade.

While arguments can be made in favor of the US Navy's role in securing communication lines to Taiwan during wartime, Taiwan is likely to approach this partnership with a sense of caution, given the US' abandonment of South Vietnam in the 1970s, the withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 and, more recently, from Afghanistan. In addition, despite their close alliance, Taiwan is not permitted to purchase all categories of weaponry from the US. As Taiwan's options to procure armament from abroad are limited, the country has opted to design much of its weapons systems itself.

Nonetheless, significant concerns loom over the readiness of the Taiwanese Armed Forces. Taiwan currently finds itself comparatively ill-prepared for a full-fledged war. To address these challenges, Taipei has begun implementing several lessons learned from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, such as the importance of stockpiling munitions. These lessons have become crucial as China's rapid military expansion has eroded many of Taiwan's defensive advantages. Addressing these issues will be critical for Taiwan to maintain its security in the face of evolving threats.

This article attempts to list (future) equipment acquisitions by the Republic of China's Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard Administration. This list focuses on heavy weaponry and doesn't include ATGMs, MANPADS, radars and vessels of less than 1000 tons. This is updated as new acquisitions are reported. Our list showing active Taiwanese fighting vehicles can be viewed here.

Republic of China Army


  • 108 M1A2T MBTs [Delivery Ongoing]
  • Upgrade Of 460 M60A3 MBTs With New Engines And Fire-Control Systems [To be completed in the late 2020s]
  • Upgrade Of 450 CM-11 MBTs With New Engines And Fire-Control Systems [To commence in the late 2020s or early 2030s]

Armoured Fighting Vehicles

  • Planned Acquisition Of Wheeled Mobile Gun Systems [Design Ongoing] (To replace the M41D light tanks and some of the older-generation MBTs)


Air Defence Systems

  • 6+ TC-2 SAM Batteries [Delivery Ongoing] (Additional TC-2 Batteries to be procured for the ROC Marine Corps)

Loitering Munitions


Weapons Systems


Republic of China Air Force

Fighter Aircraft

Advanced Jet Trainers / Light Combat Aircraft


Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles


Air Defence Systems


Republic of China Navy

Landing Helicopter Dock


Landing Platform Docks

Surface Combatants





Miscellaneous Vessels

Unmanned (Combat) Aerial Vehicles

Weapons Systems

Coast Guard Administration

Patrol (Missile) Corvettes

Offshore Patrol Vessels

  • 2 Chiayi-Class Offshore Patrol Vessels [Will be delivered in 2023 and 2024] (Will Supplement 2 Chiayi-Class OPVs already in service since 2021 and 2022)
  • 5 1,000-ton Patrol And Rescue Ships [Will be delivered between 2022 and 2024] (Will Supplement 1 1,000-Ton Patrol And Rescue Ship already in service since 2022)
  • 6 3,000-ton Ocean-Going Patrol Ships [Will be delivered between 2026 and 2032]


  • Missing flag.png 6-12 Maritime Surveillance Aircraft [Planned]


  • Missing flag.png 8 Search And Rescue And Environmental Protection Helicopters [Planned]

Special thanks to Taepodong.
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