The US State Department has given its approval for the sale of infrared search and track systems and other equipment to Taiwan for its US-made F-16 jet fighters. The proposed deal, worth $500 million, was authorized on Wednesday amid ongoing tensions between Washington and Beijing. China considers Taiwan to be its territory.
The package approved by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) includes spare parts, software, aircraft, munitions support, training equipment, and US government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services. The DSCA stated that this sale will enhance Taiwan’s security, contribute to the maintenance of political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region.
Taiwan is currently in the process of upgrading its fleet of F-16A/B planes. In 2019, the Taipei government purchased 66 new F-16V jets from the US, with the first batch expected to arrive on the island in the third quarter of 2024. However, due to issues with flight control software, the shipment has been delayed, pushing the delivery almost a year later than the original plan. The Taiwanese Defense Ministry cited these software problems as the cause of the delay.
Additionally, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen announced that the country will receive the first 38 of over 100 US-made M1A2T Abrams tanks next year. This further demonstrates Taiwan’s efforts to enhance its defense capabilities and deter potential threats from the mainland.
Notably, China strongly opposes the sale of US arms to Taiwan, claiming that it violates the ‘one-China’ policy and constitutes interference in its domestic affairs. In June, Zhu Fenglian, spokeswoman for mainland China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, criticized the US for turning Taiwan into a “powder keg” and an “ammunition depot” rather than providing protection.
The approval of this arms sale by the US comes as part of its commitment to enhancing Taiwan’s defense capabilities and ensuring its security. It also serves as a response to China’s increasing military activities and assertiveness in the region. By supporting Taiwan’s defense needs, the US aims to maintain stability and balance of power in the region, preserving its own strategic interests and the interests of its allies.
The sale of these advanced military systems to Taiwan not only strengthens the island’s defense capabilities but also demonstrates America’s continued commitment to the security and well-being of its regional partners. As tensions between Washington and Beijing persist, it remains to be seen how China will respond to this latest development. However, the US will likely continue to prioritize Taiwan’s security needs, considering it a crucial component of its broader regional strategy.