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Biden preparing 1st arms sale to Taiwan with 40 self-propelled howitzers

US reportedly planning to sell 'Paladin' self-propelled howitzers to Taiwan

M109A6 Paladin firing. (YouTube, Military Archive screenshot)

M109A6 Paladin firing. (YouTube, Military Archive screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Biden administration is reportedly preparing its first arms sale to Taiwan in the form of 40 self-propelled howitzers.

On Monday (April 19), UDN cited sources familiar with the matter as claiming that the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) had notified the Taiwanese government that the Pentagon will soon inform the U.S. Congress of the sale of 40 M109A6 "Paladin" self-propelled howitzers to Taiwan. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) is expected to announce the procedure for notifying Congress in the near future.

The Army plans to take delivery of the artillery vehicles in batches from 2023 to 2025. This year, the military will commence preparatory operations, such as the construction of ancillary facilities.

During a Judiciary and Organic Laws committee meeting at the Legislative Yuan on Monday, Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said that the case had been promoted for a long period of time, reported CNA. Chiu said he had not yet received formal notification of the deal's approval, but he confirmed that Taiwan had placed an order for self-propelled howitzers.

Taiwan had originally been in talks on purchasing the howitzers with the Trump administration as early as 2019. According to UDN, the sale has been delayed because the precision ammunition that was to be included, the M982 Excalibur, is restricted by Sweden, one of the countries involved in the R&D and one that has restricted intellectual property rights and opposed the sale.

The Army’s current artillery arsenal includes the older M109A2-A5 series of the weapon, the M114 155 howitzer, and the M110A2 self-propelled howitzer. The newest of these, the M109A2-A5, was purchased from the U.S. during the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1996, was delivered in 1998, and has been in service for 21 years.

The M109A6 weighs about 27.5 tons and is 9.1 meters long, 3.1-m wide, and 3.3-m tall. The main armament is a 39-caliber 155mm M284 cannon, which is fitted with an M182 gun mount.

It has a range of 24 kilometers with unassisted rounds and 30 km with assisted rounds. The cannon can achieve a firing rate of up to eight rounds per minute, three rounds every 15 seconds, and a sustained firing rate of one round every three minutes.

The A6 variant is equipped with an automatic fire control system, global positioning/navigation system, and single-frequency ground-to-air radio system. The vehicle has a Kevlar-lined chassis and a pressurized crew compartment to guard against ballistic, nuclear, biological, and chemical threats.