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US sale of MQ-9 drones to Taiwan reaches final stage of approval

US set to approve sale of 4 MQ-9 SeaGuardian drones worth US$600 million

(GA-ASI image)

(GA-ASI image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The sale of four sophisticated military drones to Taiwan has reportedly entered the final stage of approval in the U.S. Congress.

With the U.S. presidential election just one day away, Trump is continuing to try to paint himself as the tougher candidate on China. On Monday (Nov. 2), Reuters cited sources as saying that the sale of US$600 million dollars worth of cutting-edge aerial drones to Taiwan has cleared a key hurdle in Congress.

According to one of the sources, the U.S. State Department may formally notify Congress of the sale later this week, and then Congress has 30 days to object to it. However, because both of the major political parties in the U.S. currently support Taiwan’s defense, Congress is unlikely to oppose the sale.

The latest sale is comprised of four MQ-9 SeaGuardian drones, marking the first such deal with Taiwan since the Trump administration loosened restrictions on the export of advanced drone technology. The source said that although MQ-9s can be equipped with weapons, the four sold to Taiwan will carry reconnaissance equipment.

The MQ-9 is a large unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) for the U.S. Air Force. It is an advanced model modified from the MQ-1 Predator and is a hunter-killer UAV designed for long-endurance, high-altitude surveillance.

The drones are reportedly part of a larger deal that includes the shore-mounted Harpoon missile system, High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response (SLAM-ER), and six external sensor pods. The total cost of the weapons package thus far has reached US$5 billion, with another $2 billion in arms sales reportedly in the works.

Updated : 2021-05-08 19:24 GMT+08:00