TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Trump administration is going ahead with plans to sell three sophisticated weapons systems to Taiwan, having notified Congress of the approved sale.
As tensions heat up between the U.S. and China over the trade war, Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, national security law in Hong Kong, and human rights abuses in Xinjiang, U.S. President Donald Trump is looking to take a tougher stance with Beijing. Reuters cited five sources as saying on Monday (Oct. 12) that the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs have been informally notified that the State Department has approved the sale of three advanced weapons systems to Taiwan.
The three systems that are reportedly part of the deal include truck-based rocket launchers manufactured by Lockheed Martin called the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), long-range air-to-ground missiles produced by Boeing called the Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response (SLAM-ER), and external sensor pods for Taiwan's fleet of F-16 jets. The three systems are reportedly part of a larger package of seven systems worth US$7 billion.
The additional weapons believed to be in the package include advanced General Atomics MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones, land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles, underwater smart mines, and M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers. Formal notification of such an arms deal to Congress is usually given 30 days after informal notice, but the process can be accelerated if it receives wide approval.
The deal comes at a time when China has stepped up its aggressive military pressure on Taiwan with nearly daily incursions by People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) warplanes into Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) since Sept. 16. With the American presidential election only three weeks away, Trump may be pushing the sale to make him appear tougher on China than his Democratic rival Joe Biden.
AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER. (Internet image)