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Taiwan Boosts Defense with US M1A2 Tanks & HIMARS Rocket Launchers Amid China Tensions.

| 2023

As tensions with China continue to escalate, Taiwan is proactively enhancing its military capabilities with the assistance of the United States. According to a report from "Taiwan News" on November 30, 2023, Taiwan is preparing to send a contingent of 114 soldiers to the U.S. in the coming year for specialized training. This training will focus on the high-mobility-artillery-rocket systems (HIMARS) and the advanced M1A2T Abrams tanks.
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Taiwan will receive 108 M1A2 tanks and 39 HIMARS rocket launchers from the United States.  (Picture source army Recognition edition with U.S. DoD pictures)

In a significant move for 2024, Taiwan is set to receive an initial shipment of 38 M1A2T Abrams tanks and 11 HIMARS systems. This development is part of a larger agreement with the U.S., as reported by Up Media, which includes the training of Taiwanese military personnel in the operation and maintenance of these sophisticated weapons systems starting in January. These trained individuals will play a crucial role back in Taiwan, serving as instructors for both the tank and rocket systems.

The defense arrangement, outlined in the "2024 Taiwan Ministry of National Defense Budget," indicates that the 108 M1A2T tanks agreed upon in a 2019 deal with the U.S. will begin arriving in Taiwan from next year. The delivery schedule includes 38 tanks in the first batch, followed by 42 in 2025 and the final 28 in 2026.

The M1A2 Abrams is an upgraded version of the original American M1A1 Abrams tank, extensively used by the United States military. This advanced main battle tank features significant enhancements in various aspects, including armor, firepower, and electronics. Its armor is notably advanced, comprising a sophisticated composite that integrates depleted uranium layers, providing superior protection against diverse threats. The firepower is also a key aspect, with a powerful 120mm smoothbore cannon capable of firing a range of ammunition types. Additionally, the M1A2 is equipped with state-of-the-art electronics, including advanced targeting and communication systems, which enhance its battlefield capabilities.

Furthermore, Taiwan's strengthening of its arsenal includes the acquisition of 11 HIMARS systems, a deal approved by the U.S. in 2020, with an additional 18 units subsequently agreed upon for purchase. The first batch of these rocket systems is slated for delivery starting next year, with the entire order to be fulfilled by 2025. The additional 18 units are expected to arrive in 2026.

The High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) is a highly mobile, lightweight artillery system used by the United States military and several allied forces. Designed for rapid deployment and precision, HIMARS is capable of firing both guided and unguided rockets, as well as the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles. Mounted on a standard army truck frame, it provides strategic flexibility and can operate in a variety of terrains. Its key strength lies in its ability to deliver concentrated firepower in a very short time frame, while its mobility allows for quick repositioning to avoid enemy counter-fire. This combination of agility, firepower, and precision makes HIMARS a valuable asset in modern combat scenarios.

The upcoming year's defense budget reveals plans to dispatch 84 officers and enlisted troops to the U.S. for M1A2T tank training starting in January, with completion anticipated by the end of the year. Additionally, 30 personnel are scheduled to undergo training on the HIMARS systems after February, with their training expected to conclude by October.

Upon completing their training in the U.S., these soldiers will return to Taiwan to take on pivotal roles as instructors for the newly acquired weapons systems. Their responsibilities will encompass developing training guidelines and lesson plans, as well as conducting educational and training programs, thereby enhancing Taiwan's readiness to face potential challenges from China.

Defense News December 2023

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