Taiwan restarts artillery systems procurement following Paladin delay

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced on 2 May that it will now pursue “alternative options” to meet its requirement for new long-range artillery systems, following delays over delivery of its US-made 155 mm M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers (SPHs).

The MND said in a statement that its acquisition plans for the M109A6 SPH had been affected by a “crowded” production line, noting that it will have to evaluate “other precise and long-range” systems. It plans to submit a new budgetary proposal to parliament once it has selected a suitable replacement.

Citing the MND, Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) reported that the US government had indicated that the M109A6 SPHs could not be delivered until 2026 due to production bottlenecks, adding that other weapons such as additional Lockheed Martin’s M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) are being offered as a substitute.

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced in August 2021 that the Department of State had approved the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office’s (TECRO’s) request for 40 M109A6 SPHs and associated support equipment – including five M88A2 Hercules armoured recovery vehicles (ARVs) and 1,698 Precision Guidance Kits – under a US$750 million Foreign Military Sale (FMS). Deliveries of an initial eight systems was originally expected from 2023.

The M109A6 SPH is a modernised version of the M109A2 platforms currently used by the Republic of China Army (RoCA). It can employ the latest generation of ordnance with its expanded ammunition stowage and offers increased vehicle and crew survivability. It also offers reduced crewing requirements of four, instead of six.

The FMS approval is the first to be awarded to Taiwan, which is increasingly under threat of invasion by an assertive China – which regards the island as a breakaway province that must be unified with the mainland – under the administration of US President Joe Biden.

Earlier high-profile FMS approvals granted to Taiwan within the past year include potential sales of potentially weaponised GA-ASI MQ-9B SeaGuardian medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles, Boeing Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems and RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II surface-launched anti-ship missiles, and Lockheed Martin M142 HIMARS launchers.

by Jr Ng