US Congress approves US$330 million arms sale to Taiwan

US Congress paves the way for US$330 million weapons sale to Taiwan

U.S. F-16 fighter jet.

U.S. F-16 fighter jet. (By Wikimedia Commons)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A US$330 million arms package for Taiwan gained U.S. congressional approval by passing a 30-day review process without meeting any opposition by midnight on Wednesday (Oct. 24).

The latest sale is comprised of US$330 million worth of military equipment, mainly in the form of spare parts for numerous military aircraft including, "F-16, C-130, F-5, Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF), all other aircraft systems and subsystems, and other related elements of logistics and program support," according to the Pentagon.

Though the deal was officially announced by the U.S. Department of State on Sept. 24, under Section 36(b) of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), Congress must be notified 30 calendar days prior to the U.S. president concluding an government-to-government foreign military sale of major defense equipment valued at US$14 million or more, among other criteria.

The sale comes at a time of rising tensions between the U.S. and China, with the congressional approval being granted just two days after two U.S. warships were sent through the Taiwan Strait and six days after a U.S. Navy research vessel docked at the Port of Kaohsiung.

The sale is the second major arms deal since U.S. President Donald Trump took office, following a bundle of seven deals totaling around US$1.4 billion announced in June 2017. This latest deal moves away from previous purchases in which multiple deals were bundled together into a single sale.

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 Oct. 11.

The U.S.-Taiwan Business Council gave its support for the sale, saying it might signal a new style of military cooperation, and something the non-profit had been advocating for.

In response to the announcement of the sale in September, Alex Huang (黃重諺), spokesperson for the Presidential Office, said on Sept. 25 that the deal will provide Taiwanese people with more confidence in the face of grave security challenges, and make the country more capable of ensuring peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and the region.

Taiwan F-16 fighter jet. (Wikimedia Commons image)

Taiwan Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF). (Wikimedia Commons image)

Taiwan F-5F fighter jet. (Photo by flickr user Alec Hsu)

Taiwan C-130H. (Photo by flickr user Kwok Ho Eddie Wong)