In a report to the Legislative Yuan, the MND said the military has already taken delivery of eight U.S.-made P-3Cs, and another four will be delivered by the end of this year.
At present, the aircraft are mainly engaged in anti-submarine reconnaissance and joint surveillance in Taiwan's surrounding waters and air defense identification zone (ADIZ), the MND said.
The military will gradually expand the deployment of the P-3Cs to areas outside the ADIZ, which include Taiwan's southeastern waters as well as the Pratas Islands and the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, the ministry said.
Taiwan currently occupies Taiping, the largest island in the Spratly Islands, as well as Dongsha in the Pratas Islands.
In 2007, the U.S. government approved the sale of the 12 P-3Cs with T-56 turboprop engines and related equipment and services, a package that cost an estimated US$1.96 billion.
The P-3Cs, said to be the most capable of Lockheed's P-3 sub-hunters, are replacing the Air Force's fleet of 11 S-2T anti-submarine aircraft that had been in service for more than 40 years.
The Taiwanese Navy P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft.