Upcoming Announcement of New Weapons Package for Taiwan - US Officials


Upcoming Announcement of New Weapons Package for Taiwan - US Officials

WASHINGTON - The United States is set to make a significant announcement, possibly as early as Friday, regarding military assistance worth over $300 million to be provided to Taiwan, according to two U.S. officials who spoke to Reuters. This move is expected to provoke China, which has been increasingly assertive towards the island.


In the 2023 budget, Congress had authorized up to $1 billion for the Presidential Drawdown Authority weapons aid intended for Taiwan. While the exact value of the upcoming package is anticipated to be around $330 million, one official preferred to remain anonymous.


At present, specific details about the weapon systems included in the package are not likely to be disclosed in the formal announcement. However, in recent weeks, there have been indications that the package could consist of four unarmed MQ-9A reconnaissance drones. Nevertheless, this inclusion might be subject to change as officials work on resolving certain issues, such as the removal of advanced equipment from the drones, which is typically restricted to only the U.S. Air Force. Additionally, questions remain about who will bear the cost of the alterations required for the drones. As of now, it is uncertain whether the drones will ultimately be part of the final package.


The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States, Taiwan's de facto embassy, has not responded immediately to requests for comments on this matter.


It is worth noting that Taiwan had previously agreed to acquire four MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones, which are more advanced and manufactured by General Atomics. These drones are scheduled for delivery in 2025.


China regards Taiwan as part of its territory, and in recent years, it has escalated military pressure on the self-governing island. Beijing has never ruled out the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control. In response, Taiwan staunchly rejects Chinese sovereignty claims and maintains that the island's future should be determined solely by its people.


In anticipation of the upcoming aid package, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had informed a Senate panel on May 16 that the United States would soon provide substantial additional security assistance to Taiwan through the authorized Presidential Drawdown Authority, as sanctioned by Congress last year.


Highlighting the urgency of the situation, the top U.S. general, General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asserted that the United States and its allies should expedite the delivery of weapons to Taiwan in the coming years to bolster the island's defense capabilities.


China has consistently demanded that the United States, Taiwan's primary arms supplier, cease the sale of weapons to the island.


Taiwan's defense spending this year will prioritize preparing weapons and equipment to counter a "total blockade" imposed by China, including securing parts for F-16 fighters and replenishing its weapon inventory.


It is essential to differentiate the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA) used for Ukraine as an emergency measure to expedite security assistance by allowing the president to transfer articles and services from U.S. stockpiles. Conversely, the Taiwan PDA is a non-emergency authority approved by Congress last year.


Taiwan has expressed concerns over delays in receiving U.S. weapon deliveries, such as Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, as some shipments from U.S. stockpiles were diverted to Ukraine.

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