The Republic of China (Taiwanese) Navy has taken delivery of two advanced US-built Osprey-class minehunters.
Announced in early August 2012, the Taiwanese minehunter deal is one part of a wider supply package that also includes Black Hawk helicopters, F-16 multirole combat jet upgrade kits and Patriot missiles. This US arms sale has a total value of $6.4 billion.
The Republic of China Navy is the naval element of the Armed Forces of the Republic of China. Responsible for monitoring Taiwan's sea lanes, the ROC Navy consists of destroyers, minesweepers, landing ships, submarines and frigates and employs approximately 38,000 personnel.
The Republic of China Navy's two new Osprey-class minesweepers previously served with the United States Navy as the USS Falcon and the USS Oriole. The US Navy originally took delivery of 12 Osprey coastal minehunters from 1993 onwards but none are now in service. Retired between 2006 and 2007, they've since been made available to other nations.
Both the USS Falcon and the USS Oriole are 188 feet long and displace some 893 tons of water at their heaviest configurations. Cruising at 10 knots, they have a maximum endurance of 15 days and are equipped with Raytheon AN/SQQ-32 minehunting sonars, AN/SLQ-48 MNVs (Mine-Neutralising Vehicles) and a pair of .50 calibre machine guns. The sonars and the MNVs work together, locating and then neutralising any mines that are encountered.
ROC Navy Minehunters
Prior to joining the Republic of China Navy, the two Osprey-class minehunters were fitted with new equipment and, according to analysts, they'll increase the nation's naval capabilities if China should launch an attack.
The ROC Navy minehunter deal was cleared by US defence officials in 2010 and, besides the ships themselves, also includes support services and crew training.
The two minehunters will be formally accepted on 10 August at a ceremony to be held at Zuoying naval base - the Republic of China Navy's largest.