Israel has been quietly lobbying for the launch of a
U.S. project to provide advanced conventional submarines to Taiwan.
The reason: a Taiwan buy could launch a conventional submarine
production line in the United States that would be used by Israel to procure
"Israel really wants advanced conventional submarines but can't afford
to buy them on the open market," a U.S. official said. "With a production
line in the United States, Israel could purchase these vessels with U.S.
The official said he expected pro-Israel lobbyists in Congress to help
Taiwan in efforts to win approval for the U.S. sale of advanced conventional
submarines, Middle East Newsline reported. After years of delay, Taiwan has requested eight Type-209
submarines as part of a proposed purchase of $18 billion in U.S. platforms
and weaponry. Taiwan's legislature was expected to vote on the procurement
project in October.
In 2001, the Bush administration agreed to sell Taiwan eight
diesel-electric submarines, 12 P-3C Orion anti-surface-warfare aircraft and
four Kidd-class destroyers. But Tapei, amid heavy domestic opposition,
failed to negotiate contracts with U.S. defense firms for the air and naval
In the meantime, Taiwan's request has stirred debate in Washington. The
request has been opposed by the State Department, but supported by
The U.S. Navy has also opposed the sale. Officials said the navy does
not want the establishment of a U.S. electric-diesel submarine production
line that could harm funding for nuclear submarine production. They said the
Taiwanese request would be decided after the U.S. elections in November.
Israel, which has been struggling in efforts to procure additional
submarines, has been closely following Taiwan's request. Officials said
Washington's approval could lead to the establishment of the first diesel
submarine production line in the United States since the 1960s.
In contrast, Germany has been alarmed over the prospect that the United
States would launch a diesel submarine line. Germany has been the leading
producer of diesel submarines and Israel has been negotiating with
Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft, or HDW, for two Dolphin-class submarines. HDW
has also begun producing and exporting the more advanced Type-212 submarine.
Over the last year, industry sources said, HDW has reduced its price of
the Dolphin for Israel from $610 million to $375 million per submarine.
Officials said this has reflected slumping HDW sales as well as a decision
to continue production in Germany.
Israel has already examined the prospect of using U.S. Foreign Military
Financing for the Dolphin sale, officials said. Under the FMF, Israel could
seek an exception of the requirement that about half of the military
platform undergo production in the United States. The exception could be
applied if such a platform or its components were not available in the
"Congress could promote the exception for Israel if the president
decides on it," an official said.
In an effort to overcome U.S. Navy opposition, the administration was
examining the option of purchasing Type-209 submarines for Taiwan from
Argentina. The South American country has submarine production capability
and officials said U.S. defense firms could order the hull in Argentina and
later outfit the platform with electronic and combat suites in the United