Taiwan hails defensive capability after US approves sale of missile upgrade
- US$620 million deal ‘demonstrates the importance attached to our national defence security’, Taiwanese defence ministry says
- The sale adds to the island’s deterrent against regional threats, according to Washington
Taiwan’s presidential office welcomed the sales on Friday soon after the US state department announced a package to extend the operational life of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) surface-to-air missiles.
The sale – the second by the US to Taiwan this year – would “help us to continue our defensive capability and ensure peace in the Taiwan Strait and security in the region”, presidential spokesman Alex Huang said.
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The US does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but is bound by the Taiwan Relations Act to supply defensive arms to Taipei, despite repeated protests by Beijing. The act took force in 1979, when Washington switched recognition to Beijing from Taipei.
In a statement on Thursday, the US state department said Taiwan had requested to buy components to upgrade its Patriot missiles “to support an operational life of 30 years”.
Lockheed Martin would be the main contractor and the total estimated cost would be US$620 million, it added.
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“This proposed sale serves US national, economic and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernise its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” the statement said.
Taiwan would “use this capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen homeland defence”, it said.
The Taiwanese defence ministry said it expected the sales to be completed within a month.
“This arms sale is the seventh by the Trump administration to Taiwan so far, fully demonstrating the importance attached to our national defence security, consolidating our security partnership with the US, and jointly maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region,” the ministry said.
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The US first approved sales of Patriot missiles to Taiwan in 2007 during George W. Bush’s presidency, after which Taiwan took delivery of three packages of Patriot sales. They included three PAC-2 systems in 2007, four PAC-3 systems with 330 missiles in 2008, and three PAC-3 systems with 114 missiles in 2010.
A military source said the Taiwanese military planned to use the upgraded version of PAC-2 for a live-fire drill during the five-day Han Kuang exercise, Taiwan’s annual drill, which is expected to begin on Monday.