Taiwan to receive 100 advanced US defence missiles over China threat

Taiwan ups spending on unmanned 'suicide drones'

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Taiwan is set to receive up to 100 state-of-the-art Patriot air defence missiles from the US, a State Department notice has suggested, in a further bid to bolster protection against China. The deal, valued at $882million (£720million), would afford the island nation more advanced weapons than what had been agreed upon in a previous deal made in 2010. Known as hit-to-kill Patriot Pac-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles, the weapons have been described as “highly agile” and able to counter the most effective Chinese bombs, should Xi Jinping initiate strikes on the independent nation. 

The State Department notice said the proposed sale would enhance Taiwan’s Patriot missile system “to improve its missile defence capability, defend its territorial integrity, and deter threats for regional stability”. 

Leaked to Bloomberg News, the report comes after a summer of heightened tensions between China and Taiwan; Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) claim sovereignty over the small island nation and have continually expressed intent to bring it under their control. 

The new weapons have been described as a “small, highly agile, kinetic kill interceptor for defence against tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and air-breathing threats”. 

The notice added that the new model “represents the next generation in hit-to-kill interceptors and provides expanded battlespace against evolving threats”. 

The potential deal is not new, rather it is an enhancement of an earlier 2010 sale to Taiwan. 

The upgrade would not increase the overall $2.81billion (£2.3billion) valuation of the original deal, though it is likely to increase tension with China. 

The department’s notice to lawmakers is expected to be printed in the Congressional Record as soon as Tuesday (Dec 6) and will be reviewed by Congress for up to 30 days. 

M903 Launcher modification kits, missile round trainers and software upgrades have also been proposed to accommodate the new missiles. 

Relations between China, Taiwan and the US have spiralled in recent months as US President Joe Biden has repeatedly seemed to put in jeopardy the long-standing principle of strategic ambiguity. 

The US has, for decades, refrained from explicitly stating whether it would support Taiwan against a Chinese invasion to avoid unnecessary escalation. 

But since August 2021, less than a year after assuming office in the White House, Mr Biden has, on four occasions, appeared to break that silence. 

In a September interview this year, aired on CBS’ “60 minutes”, Mr Biden said the US military would defend Taiwan “if in fact there was an unprecedented attack”. 

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Xavier Chang, spokesperson for the Presidential Office in Taipei, said that Taiwan and the US keep in close contact on security issues. He added that the two sides “will disclose information in a timely manner”.

Meanwhile, Canada’s foreign minister has said they will deploy more ships through the Taiwan Strait to contest China’s claims on the international waters. 

Melanie Joly, in an interview with the Financial Times, said: “We need to make sure that the question of the Taiwan Strait is clear and that it remains an international strait.” 

Ms Joly, who was present at the Nato foreign ministers’ meeting in Bucharest, added: “And that’s why also we had a frigate going through the Taiwan Strait this summer, along with the Americans, [and] we’re looking to have more frigates going through it.”

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