Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) has begun to prepare to train personnel and set up training facilities for the 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks the United States is to deliver to Taiwan from 2023 to 2026. It began preparing early this year for the eventual arrival of the tanks, including training seed instructors, setting up training grounds and bunkers, and purchasing simulators. The preparations are being made with the help of the United States.
A budget of US$1.34 billion (NT$40.52 billion ) has been allotted for the purchase of these advanced tanks and deliveries are expected in four batches from 2023 to 2026. The U.S. approved selling the sale in July 2019 and a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) was signed by the two countries four months later. Experts from the U.S. visited Taiwan from Feb. 18 to 25 and surveyed several sites, and the planning for their actual development is in progress, while discussions for building additional bunkers in different camps are also ongoing.
Taiwan’s Army is planning to send 84 Army personnel to the U.S. to train for six to nine months as seed instructors in 2023. 168 army officers with foreign language skills and 72 young officers who had been studying in U.S. military schools have also been placed on a reserve list for training in the U.S. Taiwan’s Army will purchase shooting and driving simulators from the U.S., to be delivered together with the arrival of the first M1A2T tanks. The National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) in charge of developing indigenous weapon systems, will also develop Taiwan’s own simulators and install other training facilities at military camps where the tanks will be deployed.
The M1A2T is a customized model of the M1A2 SEPv2 Abrams main battle tanks, specifically for Taiwanese Army requirements. The M1A2 SEP (System Enhancement Package) version of the Abrams tank features a new-production turret with a series of enhancements for enhanced survivability. The M1A2T tanks will reportedly be assigned to the 6th Army Corps, which is responsible for the security of northern Taiwan, where most central government agencies are located. Taiwan purchased the 108 M1A2T tanks to modernize its current fleet of 1,000 battle tanks, mostly M60A3 and CM-11 models, that have been in service for more than two decades.