Taiwan has reiterated its stand on buying 108 M1A2T Abrams tank from the US to strengthen and modernize its infantry, amid rising tensions with China, according to reports.
The US will offer its assistance to help Taiwan meet its weapons requirement. The Taiwan military is said to have drawn up a budget of US$1.42 billion to procure the tanks.
The M1A2T tanks will reportedly be assigned to the 6th Army Corps, which is responsible for the security of northern Taiwan, where most central government agencies are located, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense was quoted as saying.
Under its ‘One China Principle’, Beijing claims Taiwan to be a part of its territory, which it has vowed to retake by force, if necessary. While the Chinese Air Force’s incursion in Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) is on an all-time high, Taipei’s growing proximity to the USA has irked the communist nation.
America is the biggest arms supplier for Taiwan and has pledged support to safeguard its interests.
According to Taiwan News, Taiwan’s Army Chief of Staff Yang Hai-ming told the legislators that the new tanks were better than their counterparts used by neighboring countries such as China, Japan, and South Korea.
The Abrams main battle tank has enhanced armor protection that can withstand nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) attacks.
The M1A2T Abrams tanks are a variant of M1A2SEPV2, which are specially customized for Taiwanese Army requirements. Equipped with a series of enhancements, the M1A2 SEP (System Enhancement Package) version has better survivability in the warzone. It could also use different types of fuels like military-grade jet fuel and diesel.
According to reports, the tank has composite 850 mm armor and is equipped with a digital battlefield management system that ensures combat efficiency. It uses an AGT-1500 gas turbine engine that can generate 1500 horsepower, giving it the ability to rush onto the battlefield with no problem.
The $1.42 billion deal was approved in 2019, under which, 108 Abrams tanks would be delivered in four batches between 2023 and 2026. The pact also includes Stinger missiles and other equipment.
Developed in the 1980s as part of the US Army’s famous Big 5, Abrams is famous for destroying Iraqi T-72 tanks in the Gulf War by using highly accurate, long-range thermal sensors able to destroy targets without being seen.
The oldest tanks in the service haven’t been retired because the M1A2 SEP V3 and emerging V4 variant Abrams is not the same tank as it used to be due to several upgrades.
The Abrams tanks are equipped with new, much-higher fidelity, longer-range Forward Looking Infrared Sensors which can detect and transmit target information from increasingly longer stand-off ranges, The Eurasian Times earlier reported.