Stabbing China, the US Will Sell Seven Main Weapon Systems to Taiwan
Windowofworld.com – The United States (US) plans to sell as many as seven main major weapon systems, including mines, cruise missiles and drones, to Taiwan. This move comes amid efforts by the Trump administration to increase pressure on China.
Selling seven major weapons systems at once is a rare undertaking by the US. In previous years, sales of US military equipment to the island were carefully restricted and calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing.
But the Trump administration is becoming more aggressive with China in 2020 and sales will land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades. Accusations of spying, a prolonged trade war and disputes over the spread of the new Coronavirus are the triggers
At the same time, Taiwan’s desire to buy weapons increased after President Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected in January and has made strengthening Taiwan’s defense a top priority.
Taiwan is China’s most sensitive territorial issue. Beijing says it is a Chinese province, and has slammed the Trump administration’s support for the island.
Washington is eager to create a military counterweight to Chinese troops, building on what is known at the Pentagon as the “Taiwan Fortress”, as Beijing’s military is making increasingly aggressive strides in the region.
Three sources with knowledge of the matter said arms packages from Lockheed Martin Co, Boeing and General Atomics are moving through the export process, and notification to Congress is expected to be given in a few weeks.
One industry source said President Donald Trump was scheduled to be briefed on the package this week by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Several deals were requested by Taiwan more than a year ago, but are only now being processed through the approval process.
“There is no balance today. It is imbalanced. And I think it is dangerous,” said a senior US official, citing China’s assertiveness in the Taiwan Strait, as quoted by Reuters, Wednesday (16/9/2020).
The Trump White House has made efforts to export arms to US allies, trying to improve their defenses, reducing reliance on US troops while increasing US companies and jobs.
Other factors include Taiwan’s larger defense budget, and the growing fear in Taiwan that if Trump loses, Biden will not be willing to sell them the most advanced US weapons.
Taiwan’s interest in US weapons and equipment is not new. The island is strengthening its defenses in the face of what it sees as increasingly threatening actions by Beijing, such as Chinese air force and naval exercises near Taiwan.
The senior US official said increasing Taiwan’s defense spending was a good move, but it must do more.
“Taiwan, frankly, needs to do more to ensure that they have the capability to deter Chinese aggression,” the official said.
According to sources in the defense industry and congress, surveillance and targeting drones, coupled with advanced missile and coastal defense that include smart mines and anti-submarine capabilities to deter sea invasion, have been discussed at the highest level to make Taiwan more difficult to attack, such as a “hedgehog.”
Lockheed Martin’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) rocket system, which is basically a truck-based rocket launcher, is one of the weapons that Taiwan wants, said people with knowledge of the negotiations. Taiwan is also trying to buy advanced anti-tank missiles.
In early August, Reuters reported that Washington was negotiating the sale of at least four of its large, advanced aerial drones to Taiwan for around $ 600 million.
Also being discussed is Boeing’s ground-based Harpoon anti-ship missile to serve as a coastal defense against cruise missiles.
“Other systems include underwater marine mines and other capabilities to prevent amphibious landings, or direct attacks,” said Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the United States in July.
Regarding this report, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States did not respond to a request for comment.