The US has proposed selling Taiwan as many as 100 of its most advanced Patriot air-defense missiles along with radar and support equipment in a deal valued at US$882 million, according to a US Department of State notice obtained by Bloomberg News.
The proposal was made under the provisions of a 2010 sale and so technically is not new. It is classified as an enhancement to the earlier deal, with a potential total value of US$2.81 billion.
The upgrade would not change the overall value of that deal, which infuriated Beijing at the time and led it to halt planned military exchanges with the US.
The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Its notice to lawmakers was expected to be printed in the congressional record as soon as yesterday and be reviewed by the US Congress for up to 30 days.
In Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it would not comment on particular items in arms packages.
The “normalization” of arms sales to Taiwan under the administration of US President Joe Biden underscores Washington’s emphasis on Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities, the ministry said.
Taiwan is resolved to defend itself and would continue to work with the US to deepen collaboration that would continue to help shore up the nation’s defense capabilities, it said.
Air Force Command Headquarters yesterday said that the added purchases of Patriot-III missiles are part of the air force’s general arms buildup project.
The new proposal includes as many as 100 of Lockheed Martin Corp’s hit-to-kill Patriot PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles that are more advanced than earlier Patriots sent to Taiwan.
It also includes M903 Launcher modification kits, missile round trainers and software upgrades to accommodate the new missiles.
The proposed sale would enhance Taiwan’s Patriot missile system “to improve its missile defense capability, defend its territorial integrity and deter threats for regional stability,” the department said in the notice.
The total estimated 2010 value is to remain at US$2.81 billion, it said.
The Patriot MSE is a “small, highly agile, kinetic kill interceptor for defense against tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and air-breathing threats” and “represents the next generation in hit-to-kill interceptors and provides expanded battlespace against evolving threats,” according to Lockheed Martin.
The new missile improves upon the original hit-to-kill PAC-3 “capability with a higher performance solid rocket motor, modified lethality, more responsible control surfaces and upgraded guidance software,” the department said.
The missiles are expected to be delivered in batches between 2025 and 2026, the Ministry of National Defense said.
The 100 PAC-3 MSEs would allow Taiwan’s missile batteries to have an increased range of 60km while continuing to build up the nation’s supply of PAC-family missiles, Institute for National Defense and Security Research analyst Shu Hsiao-huang (舒孝煌) said.
The new M903 Launchers would allow the military to have more flexibility in terms of missile response, Shu said.
However, Shu added that the military should still endeavor to ramp up the production of domestically produced Tien Kung-III missiles and their deployment to bolster the nation’s anti-air defense capabilities.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said that the US engineers and consultants who would be dispatched to Taiwan as part of the deal are a sign of warming Taiwan-US relations.
Additional reporting by Lu Yi-hsuan, Aaron Tu and CNA
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