Sun, Jul 02, 2017 - Page 3 News List

US arms to boost capabilities: experts

By Aaron Tu, Lu Yi-hsuan, Su Fang-ho and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

A proposed US arms package to Taiwan worth US$1.42 billion would greatly improve the survivability and airborne time of the nation’s jets in the event of armed conflict, while offering enhanced area denial capabilities for submarines, academics said.

The arms sale was announced by US Department of State spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Thursday.

US President Donald Trump’s administration informed the US Congress about the deal earlier that day, she said.

It marks the first proposal of an arms sale to Taiwan since Trump took office on Jan. 20.

The inclusion of the AGM-88B High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile is in line with the US’ habit of selling weaponry to Taiwan based on the maturity of the nation’s indigenously manufactured weapons systems, National Policy Foundation research fellow Chieh Chung (揭仲) said.

The AGM-154C Joint Standoff Weapon included in the package would complement Taiwan’s arsenal of Wan Chien long-range air-to-surface missiles, which have become the standard choice for the Republic of China Air Force’s fleet of Indigenous Defense Fighters, Chieh said.

While the MK48 torpedo is not the most recent model, it is an improvement on German-made Surface and Underwater Target torpedoes acquired via Indonesia in 1980, Chieh said.

Along with the Harpoon Block II missiles, the new acquisition would enable Taiwan’s submarines to deny the People’s Liberation Army Navy access.

The arms package offers no surprises, senior military analyst Erich Shih (施孝瑋) said.

The package was approved by former US president Barack Obama’s administration and was delayed so that the Trump administration could decide on the timing and details of the arms package.

However, the package would offer Taiwan repression of enemy air defense capabilities and rounds out its submarine capabilities, Shih said.

The arms package is unlikely to have a lasting impact on international affairs, adding that even though US-China competition is evident, such competition is unlikely to escalate, Shih said.

The US arms sales is testing the waters and is a common move in international politics, but Taiwan should play it smart, especially amid growing disparity of military strength and political influence between Taiwan and China, he said.

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