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Taiwan's plan to purchase Seahawk helicopters hits roadblock

US deems helicopters 'incompatible' with Taiwan's asymmetric warfare strategy

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U.S. MH-60R Seahawk. (U.S. Navy photo)

U.S. MH-60R Seahawk. (U.S. Navy photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s plans to purchase 12 MH-60R anti-submarine Seahawk helicopters for a total price of NT$34 billion (NT$947.46 billion) has been delayed, defense analyst Mei Fu-hsing (梅復興) said.

Mei pointed out in an interview Tuesday morning (Feb. 22) that the Biden administration has prioritized a list of weapons and equipment deemed useful for Taiwan to build up its asymmetric warfare capabilities, and the Seahawks are not included. This change may affect the future plans of multiple branches of Taiwan’s armed forces, the Liberty Times cited him as saying.

The analyst said the U.S. labeled the helicopters as “incompatible” for asymmetric warfare during last year’s U.S.-Taiwan Defense Review. Because there is also doubt amongst senior Taiwanese military and government officials about the purchase, the Navy has still been unable to issue a letter of request to Washington even though the Legislative Yuan has already approved a budget, he said.

In addition to the rotorcraft, the requested purchase includes Hellfire missiles and light anti-submarine torpedoes. The MH-60R Seahawk is capable of carrying out anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, combat search and rescue, vertical replenishment, and airborne mine countermeasures, according to Lockheed Martin.