WASHINGTON — The State Department on Friday announced a $1.1 billion arms package for Taipei after weeks of mounting tension with China in the Taiwan Strait following an August visit from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
The bulk of the package includes logistics support for Taiwan’s Surveillance Radar Program. It also includes 60 Harpoon anti-ship missiles and 100 Sidewinder tactical air missiles.
“The United States’ swift provision of Taiwan defensive weaponry and sustainment via Foreign Military Sale and Direct Commercial Sale is essential for Taiwan’s security and we will continue to work with industry to support that goal,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson said. “These proposed sales are routine cases to support Taiwan’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability.”
The $1.1 billion package must next clear the 30-day congressional review period, where little resistance is expected given Capitol Hill’s robust bipartisan support for Taipei.
The bulk of the package is $665.4 million in logistical support for Taiwan’s Surveillance Radar Program. Taiwan already possess the system, but the new contract — managed by Raytheon Technologies — will include minor modifications and upgrades.
It also includes $355 million for Harpoon missiles, manufactured by Boeing in Missouri, and $85.6 million for the Sidewinder missiles, built by Raytheon in Arizona.
Notably, Taiwan is still waiting on delivery of a $2.37 billion sale announced in 2020 for 100 Harpoon missiles. The 2020 Harpoon sale is part of a $14 billion backlog in foreign military sales to Taiwan, some of which were publicly announced as far back as 2017.
The Senate is expected to take its first crack at ameliorating this backlog next week when it marks up the sprawling Taiwan Policy Act.
The massive bill would provide $4.5 billion in military aid to Taipei while declaring Taiwan a major non-NATO ally — a designation that helps expedite arms sales but falls short of a mutual defense pact. It would also allow the president to “establish a war reserve stockpile for Taiwan that consists primarily of munitions.”
Additionally, it would require the Defense and State departments to “prioritize and expedite” foreign military sales for Taiwan.
The Chinese embassy on Friday called on the Biden administration to scrap its most recent arms sale package, threatening “counter measures” and saying that it “severely jeopardizes” U.S.-China relations.
China launched its largest-ever military drills in the Taiwan Strait last month following Pelosi’s visit, firing missiles over the island and emulating a blockade.
Bryant Harris is the Congress reporter for Defense News. He has covered U.S. foreign policy, national security, international affairs and politics in Washington since 2014. He has also written for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English and IPS News.