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US advances sale of missiles, rocket launchers to Taiwan

State Department approves 3 weapons as part of large arms deal with Taiwan ahead of election

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HIMARS being tested at White Sands Missile Range. (U.S. Army photo) 

HIMARS being tested at White Sands Missile Range. (U.S. Army photo) 

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Trump administration on Wednesday (Oct. 21) notified Congress it had approved the sale of three advanced armaments to Taiwan, part of a larger package of seven systems.

As tensions between the U.S. and China heat up over the trade war, Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, national security law in Hong Kong, and human rights abuses in Xinjiang, President Donald Trump is looking to take a tougher stance with Beijing. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on Wednesday announced that the State Department has approved the sale of three advanced weapons systems to Taiwan.

The DSCA said the deal includes 11 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) M142 Launchers, 135 AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) Missiles and related equipment, and six MS-110 Recce external sensor pods made by Collins Aerospace for jets. The cost of the HIMARS system is $436.1 million; the price tag for the SLAM-ER missiles is US$1 billion; and the pods are valued at US$367.2 million, for a total of US$1.8 billion.

US advances sale of missiles, rocket launchers to Taiwan
AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER. (Internet image)

The DSCA stated that this arms sales case is based on the Taiwan Relations Act, which is aimed at enabling Taiwan’s military to continue to modernize and maintain reliable defense capabilities. It asserted that the weapons serve American national, economic, and security interests by improving Taiwan's security and assisting in "maintaining political stability, military balance, [and] economic and progress in the region."

The three weapons are reportedly part of a larger package of seven systems, which will also include advanced General Atomics MQ-9 drones, a shore-mounted Harpoon missile system, underwater smart mines, and M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers, for a grand total of US$7 billion. Formal notification of such an arms deal to Congress is usually given 30 days after an informal notice, but the process can be accelerated if it receives wide approval.