Taiwan shipbuilder, Lockheed Martin to build minesweepers for navy
A consortium of Taiwan's largest private shipbuilder Ching Fu Shipbuilding Co Ltd, U.S. defense firm Lockheed Martin Corp and Italian firm Intermarine SpA have won a contract to supply six mine countermeasure vessels for Taiwan's navy for an undisclosed amount.
The contract is part of a procurement process by the Ministry of National Defense, said an official at Ching Fu Shipbuilding, who declined to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media.
An official at Taiwan's navy also declined to disclose details of the deal.
In a statement, Lockheed Martin said the first of the ships will be built in Italy, with the other five built in Taiwan.
The U.S. defense firm said it will install and test the combat management system for the ships.
Intermarine declined to comment.
Mine countermeasure vessels, including mine hunters and mine sweepers, are naval vessels used to clear mines at sea.
Local media have reported that the defense ministry's total procurement budget for mine countermeasure vessels is T$35.2 billion Taiwan dollars ($1.2 billion).
The United States is Taiwan's largest defense supplier and a major political ally, despite a lack of formal diplomatic ties. China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and resolutely opposes weapons sales to the island.
Asked about the deal, China's defense ministry reiterated its objection to weapon sales to Taiwan. "We resolutely oppose any weapons sales to Taiwan," the ministry said in a statement faxed to Reuters.