MELBOURNE, Australia — Taiwan plans to set aside an extra $9 billion as a special budget for additional defense spending over the next five years as it prioritizes long-range and anti-ship weapons in the face of ongoing pressure from China.
This sum will be on top of its regular annual defense budget, which was already set at $16.89 billion for fiscal 2022, which runs Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2022.
Although Taiwan’s parliament must still approve the special budget, it’s likely to pass given the majority in the legislature held by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party of President Tsai Ing-wen.
Taiwan’s deputy defense minister, Wang Shin-lung, said the bulk of the funds would go to domestic weapons projects, although he noted that some of the money would go to parts and technological support from the U.S.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said those locally developed systems include cruise missiles and warships; Wang specifically cited the Antelope air defense system, the Wan Chien long-range cruise missile and the Hsiung Feng IIE anti-ship missile.
He added that part of the additional budget would also go toward Taiwan’s indigenous shipbuilding program, which is building missile corvettes, landing ships and diesel-electric submarines for Taiwan’s Navy.
However, it is unclear if the extra funding would be used to acquire the Lockheed Martin-made MH-60R Seahawk anti-submarine helicopter, which the ministry had tried to add to its FY22 defense budget at the last minute.
“Communist China has continued to invest heavily in its defense budget, its military strength has grown rapidly, and it has frequently dispatched aircraft and ships to invade and harass our seas and airspace,” the ministry said in a statement after a weekly Cabinet meeting. “In the face of severe threats from the enemy, the nation’s military is engaged in military building and preparation work, and it is urgent to obtain mature and rapid mass production weapons and equipment in a short period of time.”
Taiwan’s announcement comes as China sent a record number of aircraft into the self-governing island’s air defense identification zone, with 39 aircraft entering the zone on Oct. 2 and a record-setting 56 aircraft two days later.
However, the aircraft, which included Shenyang J-16 multirole strikes fighters and Xian H-6 bombers, did not enter Taiwanese airspace or approach the island, according to maps provided by Taiwan’s Defense Ministry showing their flightpath.