U.S. to sell Stinger missiles to Taiwan following M503 dispute

Delivery could come within months: Washington Times

A Stinger being fired during military drills in Romania. (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The United States is preparing to sell 250 Stinger surface-to-air missiles to Taiwan following its dispute with China about the M503 flight route, reports said Friday.

In early January, Beijing unilaterally declared that northbound flights would follow a route close to the median line of the Taiwan Strait, with three feeder routes for flights traveling from three cities along the coast. Taiwan has condemned the move, as it says the new routes threaten its national security and flight safety in general.

As a result of the dispute, the Pentagon was considering delivering the Stingers to Taiwan in the coming months, the Washington Times reported. The deal was reportedly part of a US$92 million (NT$2.69 billion) contract with Raytheon Company which also included arms sales to Poland.

The FIM-92 Stinger has been described as a portable air defense system operating as an infrared homing surface-to-air missile. The weapon can be fired from the shoulder, and also from ground vehicles and helicopters.

Stingers have been in use since 1981, with 30 countries using the missiles.

China was highly likely to be angered by the delivery to Taiwan, as it sent a signal that the island could protect the M503 area with missiles, the Washington Times reported.