Taipei-The addition of U.S-made M1A2 Abrams battle tanks will serve as the last line of defense should enemy forces land on Taiwan, a military expert said Sunday.
Taiwan's military announced a day earlier that it has officially sealed a deal to buy 108 M1A2 tanks from the U.S. after the two sides signed a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) for the procurement Dec. 13.
The new M1A2s will replace some of the 1,000-plus battle tanks, mostly aging M60A3 and CM-11 tanks, that the armed forces has been using for more than 20 years.
Commenting on the acquisition, Su Tzu-yun (???), a research fellow at the military-affiliated Institute for National Defense and Security Research, told CNA Sunday that the tanks will serve as the main backbone of the armed forces' defenses should invading forces land on the country's coastline.
Su said the invaders could transfer into smaller amphibious landing craft, hovercraft and iron-hulled fishing vessels upon arriving around eight kilometers away from Taiwan's shores on larger military vessels.
To fend off such invading forces, Taiwan's armored vehicles, including M60A3 and CM-11 tanks, along with other weapons systems, such as the Thunderbolt-2000 -- an artillery multiple launch rocket system -- would be positioned in beach areas to eliminate enemies.
The tanks would use their cannons, while infantry soldiers would use portable anti-tank missiles, the professor said.
The Army's AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters and AH-64E Apache choppers, meanwhile, would be deployed as further deterrence from the sky, Su noted.
According to Su, the indigenous Clouded Leopard eight-wheeled armored vehicle is seen as the last line of defense and is estimated, along with the infantry, to be able to eliminate about 90 percent of all invading forces coming from the landing vessels.
With the new M1A2, which comes with more advanced and powerful 120 mm cannons, Su said the tank is expected to work alongside the Clouded Leopards as the country's last line of defense.
The presence of such advanced tanks will greatly boost the morale of Taiwanese infantry during wartime, he added.
To the general public, since Taiwan's army has not acquired any new weapons systems for decades, the tanks, described as the "most powerful armored vehicle to date" can also boost the confidence Taiwan has in its military, he added.
Approved for production in 1990, the M1A2 is currently the most modern battle tank in the world and has been widely used by U.S. military since the Gulf War.
The U.S. Department of State approved the sale of 108 M1A2 tanks to Taiwan, along with Stinger man-portable air defense systems, and other related equipment, for a total cost of over US$2.2 billion, in July.
The military has previously said it is scheduled to take delivery of its first of a series of batches of the tanks in 2022, with delivery of the last batch forecast for 2027.
The tanks will all be assigned to the Sixth Army Corps, which is responsible for the security of northern Taiwan, where most central government agencies are located, the military added.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel