KAOHSIUNG, TAIWAN:

Taiwan has launched the island’s first home-grown submarine project on Tuesday against growing military threats from China.

The move follows China having sent its only aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, through the Taiwan Strait in January, in one of a number of military drills held, Times of India reported today.

Taiwan last week warned of an increased invasion risk from China and has pledged to boost its military in response.

Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen called the launch of the submarine plan a “historic moment” at a naval base in southern city of Kaohsiung. She was presiding over a formal signing ceremony to initiate the project between the navy, Taiwanese shipbuilder CSBC Corporation and the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, which develops combat system integration.

Delivery of the submarine is expected to take eight years and it is likely to be deployed within 10 years.

Tsai said it was part of the island’s “indigenous defence policy”. Taiwan’s navy currently operates a fleet of four submarines, bought from abroad, but only two of them can be deployed in the event of war.

The other two were built by the United States in the 1940s and are only used in training as they are too old for combat.

Defence minister Feng Shih-kuan has said the Liaoning’s sail near Taiwan highlighted the need for the island to press ahead with building its own subs.

Taiwan also announced last month its bid to create a new generation of locally built jet trainers by 2026.

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