March 24 (UPI) -- Taiwan will soon begin its own submarine production program for the country's navy, according to local media reports.
The move was announced Tuesday after Taiwanese defense leaders inked a Memorandum of Understanding with local shipbuilder CSBC Corporation. Work on the nation's first home-built submarine will take place over the next eight years.
Taiwan expects to commission the first vessel within a decade, according to Focus Taiwan.
Political leaders formally launched the program during a ceremony at Kaohsiung's Zuoying Military Harbor, where Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen assured attendants the effort will be successful.
"I know many people have doubts over the project but we Taiwanese never shy away from challenges and my administration will shoulder our responsibility to take up this mission," she said.
The China Post reports the project will be completed in two phases. The first step will involve design work, which is expected to take four years. The next step will cover construction and additional production.
Taiwan's navy currently operates four submarines, which military leaders contend are becoming outdated. Two of the vessels were supplied by the Netherlands. The remaining two were delivered by the United States.