TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's military on Oct. 27 stated that the potential sale of US$2.37 billion worth of Harpoon anti-ship missiles will within five years help enable its defenders to wipe out "half of any" People's Liberation Army (PLA) invasion force.
On Oct. 26, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) issued a press release announcing that the U.S. State Department has given the green light to the sale of 100 Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems (HCDS) and associated equipment for approximately US$2.37 billion. Specifically, the sale would include 100 HCDS launcher transporter units, 400 RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Surface Launched Missiles, four RTM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Exercise Missiles, 411 containers, 25 radar trucks, spare and repair parts, and support and test equipment, among other items.
The weapons sale marked the second within a week and the ninth overall to Taiwan by the Trump administration. On Oct. 21, the DSCA announced a US$1.8 billion deal that 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.
In response to an announcement by the U.S. about the potential sale, the South China Morning Post cited Taiwan's Vice Defense Minister Chang Che-ping (張哲平) as saying at a press conference on Oct. 27 that the deal would help the country "achieve its goal of being able to destroy half of any enemy force by 2025." He added that in the meantime, "We hope to increase the number [of missiles] so that we can build up our combat power before then.”
The DSCA stated that the sale is meant to "augment existing surface and air defenses" and provide Taiwan with a system that will enable it to "counter or deter maritime aggressions, coastal blockades, and amphibious assaults." The statement emphasized that the new weaponry would "easily integrate into existing force infrastructure."
With a range of 125 kilometers, the missiles can be used to strike Chinese warships and transport vessels at sea as well as the nearby ports they disembark from. With Harpoon missiles already in the arsenal of Taiwan's warships and fighter jets, this shore-based version will add another layer to the country's defenses.
In addition, the subsonic missiles will complement Taiwan's Hsiung-Feng II (雄風二型) and Hsiung-Feng III (雄風三型) anti-ship missiles, the latter of which are supersonic. Although supersonic missiles have the obvious advantage of speed, subsonic missiles are lower in cost and can be deployed in larger numbers.