Staff members work on the production line of the military’s latest armored vehicle — the CM-34 Clouded Leopard — in Jiji Township, Nantou County, yesterday.
Photo: Ann Wang, Reuters
By Ben Blanchard / Reuters, Jiji Township, Taiwan
The military yesterday showed off its latest domestically produced armored vehicle, the CM-34 Clouded Leopard, at a remote manufacturing site in the nation’s central mountains.
Taiwan has been eager to demonstrate its resolve to defend itself should China ever attack. Those fears have become more pronounced over the past few years as Beijing has stepped up military activities near Taiwan.
While Taiwan relies on the US for many of its weapons, such as fighter jets, President Tsai Ing-wen （蔡英文） has been pushing for a greater emphasis on Taiwanese-designed and made armaments, the most high profile of which is new submarines.
The eight-wheeled CM-34, which entered service in 2019, is armed with a Mk44 Bushmaster 30mm chain gun made by Northrop Grumman and has an effective firing range of 3km. It is designed to be highly mobile and operate in all weather.
The plant in Nantou County’s Jiji Township （集集） can produce six vehicles per month, and has delivered 173 to the military out of an order for 305, said Wang Wen-hung （王文宏）, head of the facility.
The vehicle is named after Taiwan’s clouded leopard. Although believed to be extinct, the animal is revered by some indigenous communities who consider it to be sacred.
The development of the vehicle has not been without problems. Last year, several senior executives of supplier companies were jailed for fraud for procuring substandard parts, including some from China, for an earlier model, the CM-32.
A locally produced CM-34 Clouded Leopard armored vehicle is driven through its paces at a testing ground on a military base in Nantou County yesterday.
Photo: Sam Yeh, AFP