Taiwan’s Patriot missiles are getting a maintenance package of NT$2.52 billion (US$84.1 million) over four-and-a-half years from the US, a notification about the deal issued by the Ministry of National Defense showed on Thursday.
The US Department of State in February approved the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s request to offer a maintenance package for Taiwanese Patriot PAC-2/GEM and Patriot PAC-3 missile defense systems, said a defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
US-made Patriot missile defense systems are designed to shoot down hostile aircraft and ballistic missiles, capabilities that experts said Taiwan urgently needs amid China’s frequent incursions into its air defense identification zone and live-fire missile tests last week.
Photo courtesy of the Military News Agency
The package includes support through the US Army International Engineering Services Program and the Field Surveillance Program, the official told the Liberty Times (sister paper of the Taipei Times).
The programs would ensure that the missiles systems are reliable, adequately supplied with parts and upgraded, they said.
These services were originally listed at US$100 million, with a program duration of five years, but the price was reduced following negotiations between Taipei and Washington, they said.
The contract was signed by a ministry-led delegation of military officers and American Institute in Taiwan officials, and took effect on July 20, they said.
Taiwan operates PAC-3s and PAC-2/GEMs — which are PAC-2s upgraded to PAC-3 performance standards. Improved PAC-3/MSEs are expected to be delivered in 2025 and 2026.
Separately, the nation’s defense budget is slated to grow 4.2 percent next year, more than the 4.09 percent the Cabinet previously said it was considering, an official familiar with the matter said.
Next year’s defense budget would be NT$15.4 billion higher than this year’s budget of NT$367.6 billion, they said, adding that the largest budget items would be personnel costs, operational costs and arms procurement.
The salaries and benefits of military service members are important issues to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), which is reflected in the budget plan prepared under the supervision of Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), they said.
Asked what weapons Taiwan is planning to obtain next year, the official declined to comment, citing national security implications.
Social welfare programs would remain the largest item in the government’s overall budget next year, at nearly one-quarter of the NT$2.7 trillion plan, they said.
One of the most significant changes in social welfare spending is a child-rearing subsidy increase to NT$5,000 per month, from NT$3,500 per month this year, and higher subsidies for fertility treatments, they said.
Additional reporting by Chen Yu-fu
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