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US reportedly selling 4 sets of NASAMS to Taiwan

Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems set for delivery in 2024

NASAMS air defence system. (Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace photo)

NASAMS air defence system. (Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. reportedly plans to sell Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) to Taiwan.

A high-level government official was cited by Liberty Times on April 14 as saying that a deal is in the works to sell four sets of NASAMS to Taiwan. The system can also make use of the Link 16 military data link to integrate with existing U.S. and Taiwan air-defense missile systems such as America's short-range Avenger Air Defense System (AN/TWQ-1) and Taiwan's Sky Sword II (天劍二) medium-range, hypersonic, radar-guided air-to-air missile.

When asked whether the four sets of NASAMS will be procured with grants or loans from the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), or purchased in accordance with Taiwan's multi-year defense procurement budget, the official said that discussions are still underway. However, the source said that, regardless of which channel, efforts are being taken to expedite the purchase, and the official is optimistic the system will be delivered next year.

NASAMS is an air defense system that combines MPQ-64 Sentinel radar, multiple types of short- and medium-range air defense missiles, and the Link 16 military data link. It is a powerful short- and medium-range ground air defense system.

It is compatible with anti-aircraft missile types such as the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), AMRAAM Extended Range (ER) missile, the short-range AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder tactical missile, and German-made IRIS-T medium range infrared homing missile. The anti-aircraft capabilities of the ground-to-air defense system can extend out to 40 or 50 km away.

The official said the advantage of the system is that it is very flexible in terms of dealing with different combat scenarios. As sidewinder missiles can be integrated into the system, if an air base's runways are damaged by the enemy, the official said that the sidewinders can be removed from the fighter jets and placed in the NASMS system for use as air defense.

Institute of National Defense and Security Research fellow Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲) was cited last week by CNA as saying that in the face of China's frequent aerial maneuvers around Taiwan, the priority should be to strengthen the air defense missile system of north Taiwan, such as strengthening deployment of Patriot air defense missiles in the Taipei metropolitan area.

He said that in addition to the AN/TWQ-1 system, Taiwan urgently needs medium-range missiles for its air defense needs. Su said that Taiwan's military is negotiating with the U.S. on acquiring the NASMS system as it will greatly enhance Taiwan's air defense capabilities.