TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is reportedly planning on purchasing an additional 300 Patriot missiles from the U.S. to counter China's growing threat against the country.
Amid increasing encroachments by Chinese military aircraft, Apple Daily on Sunday (Dec. 6) cited sources as saying that Taiwan's Air Force Command is planning on purchasing an additional 300 Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) interceptors from the U.S. next year. If this purchase is approved, it is estimated that Taiwan's arsenal of PAC-3 missiles will reach 650 by 2027.
When asked by legislators in the Legislative Yuan's Foreign and National Defense Committee about the reported purchase on Monday (Dec. 7), Air Force Chief of Staff Huang Chih-wei (黃志偉) said he could not disclose the exact quantity at the moment, but he claimed that the procurement of missiles would stay within the originally allocated budget of NT$170 billion (US$6 billion).
Vice Defense Minister Chang Che-ping (張哲平) said that at the beginning of its acquisition of the Patriot missiles, Taiwan had requested a specific amount. However, during the implementation phase that year, due to budget considerations, the U.S. believed that Taiwan could only obtain a smaller amount.
Patriot MIM-104 launch. (US Army photo)
This smaller quantity did not meet the operational requirements set by Taiwan at the beginning, said Chang. Therefore, in order to meet its operational needs, the Air Force has increased the size of its purchase in accordance with the laws and regulations.
Also during the committee meeting, Huang said that the military will make an additional NT$22.6 billion in arms purchases from the U.S. next year. When pressed to reveal what those systems are, he said he was not at the liberty of disclosing that information as the U.S. Congress has not yet been notified of the purchase.
CNA cited unnamed sources as speculating that the new purchases could include M109 self-propelled howitzers and smart mines. However, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) has not yet confirmed that these items are indeed part of the weapons deal.