US Congress asked to approve USD1.1Bn arms sale to Taiwan
According to Lara Seligman and Andrew Desiderion in Politico, the U.S. administration plans to formally ask Congress to approve an estimated $1.1 billion arms sale to Taiwan that includes 60 anti-ship missiles and 100 air-to-air missiles.
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ROC Air Force’s upgraded F-16V. This picture is rare as it shows the jet carrying the AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile – a reminder of Taiwanese Vipers’ maritime strike role besides air defense. (Picture source: Twitter)
The package is presumed to include 60 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles for $355 million, 100 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder tactical air-to-air missiles for $85.6 million, and $655.4 million for a surveillance radar contract extension. The Sidewinder missiles will arm Taiwan Air Force’s 200+ F-16C/D Block 70 Viper fighter jets.
Once the Biden administration formalizes the notification, the Democratic chair and ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee will need to sign off on the sale before it can be finalized. The lawmakers are likely to approve the sale, but the process could drag out given the ongoing congressional recess.
As written by the Washington Post, the US government has maintained the core elements of its policy towards Taiwan, including “strategic ambiguity”. This is the doctrine that maintains that the US will help build Taiwan’s military capabilities, but provides no guarantees to provide direct military support in response to a military attack by China. But over the past decade Washington has increased its emphasis towards support for Taiwan in response to what it perceives to be increasingly assertive Chinese actions. In May 2022 the US president, Joe Biden, said the US would defend Taiwan if it was attacked, a statement which appeared to be in violation of “strategic ambiguity”. The administration soon walked back Biden’s statements and reaffirmed that US policy in respect to the security of Taiwan had not changed.