The United States has announced a historic US$345 million military aid package for Taiwan which will for the first time be drawn from existing US military stockpiles instead of purchases through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) mechanism, the White House announced on 28 July.
The package is being provisioned under the US Presidential Drawdown Authority and is the first of its kind for the island, which China considers a breakaway province that must be reunited by force if necessary. Taiwan has not been a direct recipient of US military assistance in the past.
“By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including section 621 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), I hereby delegate to the Secretary of State the authority under section 506(a)(3) of the FAA to direct the drawdown of up to $345 million in defense articles and services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training, to provide assistance to Taiwan,” the US statement said.
The White House statement did not disclose specifics of the military aid package, but is thought by many to include intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, small arms, man-portable air defence systems, and missiles.
The latest announcement comes a month after the US State Department approved potential sales of 30 mm ammunition as well as spare parts for military vehicles and weapons worth a cumulative US$440.2 million to Taiwan,
The 30 mm ammunition deal is expected to be worth US$332.3 million and is understood to be aimed at equipping the Taiwanese army’s CM-34 Clouded Leopard 8×8 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), which are armed with the stabilised Northrop Grumman Mk 44 Bushmaster II 30 mm dual-feed autocannon.
Meanwhile, the proposed sale of spare and repair parts to Taiwan is worth US$108 million, which will provision for sustainment to the Taiwanese armed forces wheeled vehicles, weapons, combat weapon systems, as well as logistics support. However, it has yet to determine the contractors that will fulfil this package.
Taipei has also expressed interest in other types of US-made equipment and weapons. These include General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper medium altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). It was earlier announced that GA-ASI had been awarded a US$217 million contract to deliver four MQ-9B SeaGuardian UAVs to Taiwan.
by Jr Ng