TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- As Taiwan and the U.S. appear to possibly be moving toward a more normalized relationship in terms of arms sales, the South China Morning Post today listed the three U.S.-made weapons most likely at the top of Taiwan's wish list, covering land, sea, and air.
On Oct. 11, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, Randall Schriver said that U.S.-Taiwan military sales are becoming a “more normal foreign military sales relationship" on the sidelines at a conference in Washington, D.C.
On Sept. 24, the U.S. Department of Defense announced a proposed sale of US$330 million (NT$10.2 billion) worth of military equipment relating to Taiwan’s F-16 fleet, a sale which moves away from previous purchases in which multiple deals were bundled together into a single sale, raising hackles in Beijing.
Today, the South China Morning Post, which is owned by China's Alibaba Group, published a list of the the U.S. military weapons and technologies Taiwan's military likely wants the most:
1. Submarine technology
With only two modern submarines in comparison to China's 56, Taiwan is clearly in need of greatly boosting its submarine force. As no country, including the US, dares to directly sell submarines to Taiwan, for fear of incurring Beijing's wrath, Taiwan has no choice but to try and build its own fleet, but there are hopes that it can acquire some of the technology and weapons systems it needs from the U.S.
2. F-35 Lightning II
Even though they are receiving upgrades, Taiwan's aging fleet of F-16 fighters are no match (supposedly) for China's fifth generation Chengdu J-20 fighter jets. In addition, as Taiwan's Air Force bases are vulnerable to China's vast array of missiles, there is clearly a need for a fighter jet that can take off and land vertically on bombed-out runways or highways.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightining II, is a state-of-the-art fifth generation fighter jet that has stealth technology to mask it from Chinese missile batteries and fighter jets and should match if not outclass the J-20, which still is struggling to achieve the advanced engines and avionics it needs for keeping up with its American adversary.
3. M1A2 Abrams tank
Taiwan currently fields a downright ancient fleet of tanks from the 1960s, which include the M60A3 Patton and the domestically-made CM11 Brave Tiger (a hybrid of a M60 and a M48 Patton). In an effort to modernize its tank force to counter an invasion of Taiwan by PLA forces, and despite concerns of the feasibility of its use on Taiwan's coastal wetlands and mountainous areas, news surfaced in July that the Ministry of National Defense is planning to purchase 108 M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks from the U.S.