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Biden administration approves its 1st Taiwan weapons package

Arms deal includes 40 M109A6 Paladins, related technical equipment

M109A6 Paladin firing. (YouTube, Military Archive screenshot)

M109A6 Paladin firing. (YouTube, Military Archive screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Biden administration on Wednesday (Aug. 4) approved its first weapons sale to Taiwan, which includes M109A6 self-propelled howitzers and related equipment for approximately US$750 million (NT$20.83 billion).

The U.S. State Department approved the potential sale of 40 M109A6 Paladins, 20 M992A2 Field Artillery Ammunition Support Vehicles, one Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System, five M88A2 Hercules vehicles, five M2 .50 caliber machine guns, and 1,698 multi-option, precision guidance kits, according to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) press release. The deal also includes M109A6/M992A2 overhaul, conversion, and refurbishment services, global positioning system receivers, AN/VVS night driver’s viewers, and other technical support and equipment.

The DSCA said that the possible deal “will contribute to the modernization of [Taiwan’s] self-propelled howitzer fleet, enhancing its ability to meet current and future threats,” adding that it will also aid Taiwan in “updating its military capability while further enhancing interoperability with the U.S. and other allies.” The East Asian nation will be able to incorporate these systems into its armed forces with relative ease, and the sale will not change the regional military balance, the agency said.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday (Aug. 5) thanked the American government for its commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances. It noted that this is the first time the Biden administration has announced an arms sale to Taiwan, adding that it shows Washington “has always attached great importance to Taiwan’s defense capabilities and has continued its policy of normalizing arms sales to Taiwan in recent years.”

The ministry also said Taiwan will resolutely enhance its national defense to “protect its citizens’ lives, property, and free and democratic way of life,” and that through close cooperation with the U.S., it will maintain security in the Taiwan Strait and “contribute to the long-term peace, stability, and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region.”

The M109A6 is operated by a four-man crew and is able to receive data, aim and fire, and move to a different location without external technical assistance, according to Army Technology. This allows the Paladin to protect itself from enemy counterfire.