U.S. government approves sale of tanks, missiles to Taiwan (update)

2019/07/09 12:42:38 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
M1A2 Abrams Tank / photo from www.army.mil

M1A2 Abrams Tank / photo from www.army.mil

Washington, July 8 (CNA) The U.S. Department of State has approved the sale of a package of weapons to Taiwan worth US$2.2 billion that includes M1A2T Abrams tanks and Stinger missiles.

The Department of State's Bureau of Political-Military Bureau announced the sales, and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) formally informed the Congress of the approval on Monday U.S. time.

The arms sales, totaling US$2.22 billion, include 108 M1A2T Abrams Tanks and relevant equipment and support, 250 Block I-92F MANPAD Stinger missiles, and four Block I-92 MANPAD Stinger Fly-to-Buy missiles and relevant equipment.

The package, however, does not include 66 F-16V fighter jets that Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense applied to purchase on Feb. 27.

The deal had been stalled for some time amid concerns that the U.S. government was holding back on weapon sales to Taiwan for fear of their possible impact on its trade talks with China.

But the truce in the trade war reached between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) at the G20 summit in Osaka and an agreement to keep talking may have allayed some of those worries.

The sales, announced as two separate packages by the DSCA, were by far the most substantive since Trump became president in January 2017.

Previous sales announced on June 29, 2017, Sep. 24, 2018, and April 15, 2019 included training and maintenance/logistics support, along with torpedoes, anti-radiation missiles, and missile components.

According to DSCA's two statements issued on July 8, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, Taiwan's de facto embassy the U.S., has requested to buy 250 Block I-92F MANPAD Stinger missiles, 4 Block I-92F MANPAD Stinger Fly-to-Buy missiles, 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks and related equipment.

The principal missile contractors will be Raytheon Missile Systems, and the MlA2T tank prime contractor will be General Dynamics Land Systems, the DSCA statements said.

The Stinger missiles and related equipment will contribute to the recipient military's goal to update its capability while further enhancing greater interoperability between the recipient, the U.S., and other partners, the DSCA said.

This proposed sale of MlA2 tanks, meanwhile, "will contribute to the modernization of the recipient's main battle tank fleet, enhancing its ability to meet current and future regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense," the DSCA said.

The sale of these tanks, it said, serves U.S. national, economic, and security interests by helping "improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region."

(By Chiang Chin-ye, Elizabeth Hsu and Chung Yu-chen)
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