Taiwan's Hai Kun Class Submarine
Taiwan held the launch ceremony for their first indigenous submarine on September 28 2023. The Hai Kun was built at CSBC Corp.'s shipyard in Kaohsiung on the country's west coast in an impressively short period of time. Keel laying to launch was less than 2 years.
The submarine is also an interesting design.
Dutch Design Heritage
Despite persistent reports in local media that it is in some respects a Japanese design, it is evidently based on the Dutch Zwaardvis class. This makes sense as the Zwaardvis is already in service with the ROCN (republic of China Navy) as the Hai Lung class. The new boat is essentially a reverse engineered Zwaardvis hull with many small improvements.
The hull uses the same hybrid double-single hull construction as the Zwaardvis class. This includes the U.S. Navy style light outer hull structure, inherited all the way back to the U.S. Navy's Barbel Class design.
The most visible update is to the control surfaces which have switched from traditional cruciform to the more common X-form type. This one detail is likely the single greatest design risk in the project which is otherwise very conservative. No attempt has been made to add AIP (air independent power), vertical missile tubes or other complications. Currently it has no anechoic coating on the outside and it is possible that this too is being skipped. All this is completely understandable and makes sense for a country's first submarine.
While the underlying design is not as modern as some others, including the latest Yuan class in China, it is still credible. It is large enough to be useful in a wide range of missions. Significantly it is expected to be armed with the American Mk.48 Mod 6 heavyweight torpedoes. These are not as cutting edge as later models of Mk.48 but are all the same highly capable weapons. They will be mated to a U.S. supplied combat system. The weapons package is rounded out by Sub-Harpoon anti-ship missiles.
Official graphic of the Hai Kun Class
Other Projects To Protect Taiwan
Taiwan is also building a smaller 30 meter long midget submarine under the Huilong project, although details are limited. Meanwhile the Seawolf 400 4-meter long / 1 tonne autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) is undergoing testing. This isn't weaponized but sets Taiwan on the path of developing indiginous large AUVs. And, shadowing Ukraine, the Seashark 400 uncrewed surface vessel (USV) is clearly based on a jet ski. Unlike the Ukrainian types it is unarmed, but future iterations could be enlarged for offensive missions.
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