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The U.S. State Department approved Wednesday $1.8 billion in potential arms sales to Taiwan, including missiles, sensors, and artillery, the Pentagon stated.
Among other systems, the State Department's formal notification to Congress was for 11 truck-based rocket launchers produced by Lockheed Martin Corp called High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HMARS) at the cost of $436.1 million.
Other sales include 135 AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) Missiles and related equipment made by Boeing, for just over $1 billion and six MS-110 Recce external sensor pods for jets made by Collins Aerospace for $367.2 million.
More congressional notifications are expected to come soon, including for drones made by General Atomics and Boeing-manufactured land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles. The 100 cruise missiles stations and 400 missiles will cost about $2 billion alone.
Congress has 30 days to object but likely will not given broad bipartisan support for building up Taiwan's defense systems. While Taiwan Defense Minister Yen De-fa said he did not seek to get involved with an arms race against China, the sales would help deal with "the enemy threat and new situation."
“This includes a credible combat capability and asymmetric warfare capabilities to strengthen our determination to defend ourselves,” he added. “This shows the importance attached by the United States to security in the Indo Pacific and Taiwan Strait. We will continue to consolidate our security partnership with the United States.”
While the Chinese embassy did not immediately comment on the sales, last week, China's foreign ministry said that US arms sales to Taiwan severely damaged China's sovereignty and security interests. China urged Washington to cancel the planned sales and warned it would “make a legitimate and necessary response according to how the situation develops.”
The US administration has increased pressure on Beijing, leading up to the November 3 US presidential election. President Donald Trump has made a tough stance against China, a central theme of his second term campaign.
Washington has supported Taiwan in strengthening its defense capabilities, given that Beijing has been ratcheting up pressure on the island ever since President Tsai Ing-wen was first elected in 2016.