The sale of self-propelled howitzers and GPS-guided artillery shell kits to Taiwan has been approved by the US State Department, marking the Biden administration’s first such permission for the self-ruling country.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Defense Security and Cooperation Agency, or DSCA, approved Taiwan’s purchase of 40 M-109A6 Paladin 155mm self-propelled howitzers, as well as supporting equipment. The possible transaction is expected to cost $750 million.
20 M992A2 field artillery ammunition support vehicles and 5 M88A2 Hercules armored recovery vehicles are also included in the flagged arms package to the self-governing east Asian Island, as well as an Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System, radios, spares, and other contractor and logistics support.
Furthermore, the Taiwanese package includes 1,698 precision guidance kits, which can be installed on normal 155mm artillery rounds to convert them into GPS-guided shells for precision artillery strikes against point targets.
BAE Systems will be in charge of the howitzers and armored recovery vehicles, while the ammunition support vehicles will be handled by the Anniston Army Depot in Bynum, Alabama. The proposed sale, according to the DSCA, will assist in the upgrading of the recipient’s self-propelled howitzer fleet, boosting its capabilities to handle existing and future threats.
The announcement has been greeted positively in Taiwan, with the island’s foreign affairs ministry stating that the Biden Administration’s decision demonstrates the United States government’s commitment to the Taiwan Relations Act, which requires the United States to sell arms necessary to maintain Taiwan’s ability to defend itself.
Taiwan will be able to “maintain a rock-solid self-defense and regional peace and stability” as a result of the deal, according to the administration.
Faced with China’s continued military development and provocations, the ministry stated, “our administration will strengthen national defense and security with an unflinching determination to preserve people’s lives and our free and democratic way of life.”
China, which considers Taiwan to be a rogue province and has threatened to reunify the island with the mainland by force if necessary, has slammed the announced sale, saying Taiwan “is an inalienable part of Chinese territory” and that the United States “undermines China’s sovereignty and security interests by selling arms to the Taiwan region.”
The spokesperson went on to say that the US should “halt arms sales to Taiwan and military interactions with Taiwan, and quickly revoke relevant arms shipments to Taiwan, lest it cause further damage to China-US relations.” across the Taiwan Strait, as well as peace and stability.”
“China will take countermeasures to defend its legitimate interests.”