The U.S. Is Going To Sell Suicide Drones To Taiwan Amid Growing Chinese Threat

Taiwan will buy $360 million worth of US drones, a big step towards strengthening its defense capabilities.

The agreement, a component of the Taiwan Relations Act and approved by the US State Department, was recently announced by the Pentagon’s Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). This legally enforceable pact requires the United States to give Taiwan the arsenal to defend itself. The timing proves crucial given China’s increased military pressure on the island through high-profile war games.

The Pentagon office claims the sale “will help maintain political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region as well as improve the recipient’s security.” 291 ALTIUS 600M-V drones and associated equipment, expected to cost $300 million, and Switchblade 300 anti-personnel and anti-armor loitering munitions, estimated to cost $60.2 million, are in the package.

Small guided missiles known as loitering munitions, such as the Switchblade 300, can hover over a target area before being directed toward an attack. Various platforms may launch the lightweight, precisely guided Switchblade 300 missile from AeroVironment in under two minutes. It can stay in the air for 20 minutes and has a range of 18.6 miles (30 km). Talking about the efficiency of these drones, Wahid Nawabi, CEO of AeroVironment, said, “We have been gratified by overwhelming user feedback and demand for additional systems.”

The bigger Anduril-manufactured ALTIUS 600M can be fired from land, air, or sea platforms and carries numerous seekers and warhead options. The Switchblade and ALTIUS unmanned aerial systems are also utilized for surveillance.

Despite occasional delays, Taiwan’s defense ministry expressed gratitude for the United States’ continued assistance in arms sales. A spokesman for the presidential office, Karen Kuo, stressed Taiwan’s dedication to enhancing its capacity for asymmetric warfare and self-defense. “We will firmly defend our constitutional system of democracy and freedom, and we will work with countries with similar ideals to safeguard the rules-based international order,” she stated.

With the acquisition of these drone systems, Taiwan’s arsenal of authorized but undelivered weapons and munitions now stands at a considerable six billion dollars. Among them are asymmetric weapon systems like MQ-9B aerial drones, PAC-3 missile interceptors, and Harpoon missiles. Since these weapons would be more difficult for China to neutralize in the event of an invasion, analysts support Taiwan’s efforts to develop more asymmetric weaponry.

However, the Washington-based Cato Institute noted, “Taiwan’s military has resisted fully embracing an asymmetric defense posture, and 55 percent of the backlog’s dollar value is for capabilities that are both more expensive and less likely to survive long in a conflict with China.”

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