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Military of Taiwan

The Republic of China (ROC) maintains a large military establishment, which will account for 15.5% of the central budget in FY 2001. The military is historically continuous with the forces that fled to Taiwan with the Kuomintang at the end of the Chinese Civil War.

The military's current foremost mission is the defense of Taiwan, a defense primarily against the People's Republic of China, which is seen as the predominant threat and which has not renounced the use of force against the ROC. Until the 1970s, the military primary mission was to retake the Mainland.

The ROC's armed forces number approximately 430,000, and reserves reportedly total 3,870,000. The ROC has implemented a force reduction program to scale down its military to a level of 400,000 by FY 2001. Conscription remains universal for qualified males reaching age 18.

The ROC's armed forces are equipped with weapons obtained primarily from the United States which has supplied it with F-16 fighters and Perry class destroyers[?]. The United States has also authorized the sale of eight diesel submarines although it is not clear if and how these subs are to be delivered since the United States does not build diesel submarines and other nations are unlikely to sell these weapons because of PRC pressure.

The ROC also has procured procured submarines from the Netherlands and fighter jets from France. These sales were made in the late 1980s and because of PRC pressure, future sales from Europe appear unlikely.

The military has also stressed military "self-reliance," which has resulted in the growth of indigenous military production in certain fields most notably the Indigenous Defense Fighter[?]. The ROC's efforts at arms purchases have consistently been blocked by PRC. In addition the PRC has consistently attempted to block communications between the ROC military and other militaries and this has led some observers to fear that this is causing ROC's military to fall behind doctrinally.

The ROC adheres to the principles of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has stated that it does not intend to produce nuclear weapons. It had a small nuclear weapons program in the 1970s but this was shut down after strong pressure from the United States.

Because of the historical legacy having once controlled Mainland China, the army has traditionally been the most important of Taiwan's military forces, although with the realization that the army's role in defending against a PRC invasion is limited.

Military branches: Army, Navy (includes Marines), Air Force, Coastal Patrol and Defense Command, Armed Forces Reserve Command, Combined Service Forces

Military manpower - military age: 19 years of age

Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 6,554,373 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 5,017,643 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 201,413 (2000 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $8.042 billion (FY98/99)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 2.8% (FY98/99)

Table of contents

ROC Air Force


  • Air wing equipped with Mirage 2000-5 fighters and F-16


  • Jeou-Peng, on southeastern coast



  • MICA air to air missiles: 960
  • Magic air to air missiles: 480

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