• Directory of Taiwan

Taiwan to buy 400 Harpoon missiles from US to thwart Chinese attack

Deal would mark first time Taiwan has acquired land-launched version of Harpoon

Harpoon missile launch. (Twitter, Boeing Defense photo)

Harpoon missile launch. (Twitter, Boeing Defense photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is reportedly in the process of purchasing 400 Harpoon anti-ship missiles from the U.S. in a bid to bolster its defenses against a potential Chinese invasion.

Bloomberg News on Tuesday (April 18) cited U.S.-Taiwan Business Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers and people familiar with the matter revealing that Taiwan will purchase as many as 400 land-launched Harpoon missiles, completing an arms deal approved by the U.S. Congress in 2020. The report said that Taiwan had previously purchased the ship-based version of the Harpoon, but this will be the first time the country will obtain the land-based variant.

Hammond-Chambers said that the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command has signed a contract on behalf of Taiwan, and three others familiar with the matter, including an industry official, also confirmed the contract is with Taiwan.

The U.S. Department of Defense announced on April 7 that it signed a $1.7 billion contract with Boeing, but it did not list Taiwan as the buyer. Lieutenant Colonel Martin Meiners, a Pentagon spokesperson, declined to confirm whether Taiwan was acquiring the missiles but said, "We will continue to work with industry to provide Taiwan defense equipment in a timely manner."

There is a backlog of orders for the sea-launched version of the Harpoon and Taiwan is currently behind Saudi Arabia in the queue. In February, U.S. Representative Mike Gallagher said, “Taiwan should be moved to the front of the line for the Harpoons,” and that the idea of Saudi Arabia receiving the weapons first “doesn’t make any strategic sense to me."

The news agency suggested that the backlog in arms shipments to Taiwan and the Harpoon deal are likely topics of discussion at the next hearing of the House Armed Services Committee slated for Tuesday (April 18) in Washington.