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Taiwan arms backlog from US virtually unchanged since last year

Value of backlog about the same but weapons for asymmetric warfare have been prioritized

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Full delivery of the original 11 HIMARS is expected in 2025, with the 18 additional units arriving in 2026. (Lockheed Martin photo)

Full delivery of the original 11 HIMARS is expected in 2025, with the 18 additional units arriving in 2026. (Lockheed Martin photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s backlog of arms from the United States has not changed much in terms of overall cost but there has been a notable increase in the number of weapons for asymmetric warfare.

A Cato Institute breakdown published on Monday (Feb. 12) surveyed proposed arms sales versus actual deliveries, and shows that the current backlog hovers around the same mark compared with last year. In November 2023, the figure stood at US$19.17 billion (NT$602.8 billion) compared to US$19.3 billion in January 2024.

The Cato Institute report said the arms backlog was important for three reasons:

  1. Growing demands on the U.S. for arms raise questions of strategic priorities
  2. Weapons, especially asymmetric arms, sent to Taiwan could act as a deterrence to China and prevent war
  3. Debate on the arms backlog may provide impetus to revise U.S. policy on the issue

The Cato Institute emphasized the rising proportion of asymmetric weapons that now form part of the backlog. The backlog value of asymmetric weapons went up from US$4.22 billion in November 2023 to US$5.33 billion in January. This value of traditional weapons, in comparison, went down from US$12.11 billion to US$10.87 billion.

The Cato Institute article stated: “Every item removed from the backlog was a traditional capability, while every item added to it was an asymmetric capability. Of the three items removed from the backlog, two completed deliveries in 2023 and one was canceled.”

The Cato Institute is an influential quasi-autonomous NGO in the U.S. that promotes “an American public policy based on individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peaceful international relations.”

Taiwan arms backlog from US virtually unchanged since last year
Taiwan arms backlog from US virtually unchanged since last year
Taiwan arms backlog from US virtually unchanged since last year
(Cato Institute screenshots)