USTBC Comments on the Proposed FMS of Additional Missiles and Radar Sustainment to Taiwan

September 2, 2022

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Press Release:
The US-Taiwan Business Council Comments on the Proposed Foreign Military Sale of Additional Harpoon and Sidewinder Missiles and Radar Sustainment to Taiwan

(Arlington, Virginia, September 2, 2022)

The US-Taiwan Business Council today welcomed the announcement of three possible Foreign Military Sales to Taiwan of AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder Missiles, AGM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II Missiles, as well as Contract Logistics Support for the Surveillance Radar Program (SRP) and related equipment, at an estimated total cost of US$1.106 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) delivered the required certifications notifying Congress of the proposed Taiwan arms sale on September 2, 2022.

The published Congressional Notifications (transmittal numbers 22-44, 22-45, and 22-46) is for 100 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder tactical missiles and 4 AIM-9X Block II tactical Guidance Units – along with containers, spare & repair parts, support & test equipment, documentation, training, and other support. It is also for 60 AGM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II missiles and 4 ATM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II exercise missiles. Also included are Harpoon Guidance Control Units (GCUs), Radar Seekers and Altimeters, Captive Air Test Missiles (CATMs) as well as containers, spare & repair parts, support & test equipment, documentation, training, and other assistance and support. Finally, today’s notifications included follow-on Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) for the Surveillance Radar Program (SRP). That includes program management, minor modifications and upgrades, spares and repair/return parts, documentation, as well as related elements of engineering, technical, logistical, and other program support.

These are not new capabilities. Taiwan already has AIM-9 and Harpoon missiles in its existing inventory, and the Taiwan Surveillance Radar Program (SRP) has now been up and running for near a decade. The US-Taiwan Business Council welcomes continued security assistance support for Taiwan. We expect the Biden Administration to continue to focus its efforts on munitions and sustainment, which fits with their “asymmetric” approach to Taiwan. This views arms sales to Taiwan only through the narrow prism of a D-Day style attack, rather than as an all-phases assessment of the Chinese threat.

The Council opposes this limited approach. As the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) recently demonstrated in its mock blockade, the island faces a range of threats that require a range of capabilities. To deny the island the ability to mount a full defense will, over-time, create new gaps in Taiwan’s defenses that the PLA can exploit. America’s current policy of strategic ambiguity does not allow for the U.S. to clarify that it would fill those gaps as they emerge.

Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers commented on today’s sale, “The Council has long opposed the ‘packaging’ of programs into a single batch of Congressional Notifications. It is an irregular use of the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process, where programs should be notified to Congress when they are ready, rather than bundled together. It raises the likelihood of politicized timing, and places stress on Taiwan’s budget process as its government has to manage the ebbs and flows of erratic sales.

Hammond-Chambers added, “Notifying a bundle of programs in excess of US$1 billion tends to magnify the political impact of an arms sales announcement. In conjunction with the passage of the USS Antietam and USS Chancellorsville through the Taiwan Strait in the past week, we should consider today’s sale a part of the hard-power response to the PRC’s threats and irresponsible behavior after Speaker Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan.  

However, if the intention is to both boost Taiwan’s national security and make a political point to China, notifying this sale at 5:00 pm on a holiday weekend is a failing grade. Attempts to bury so-called ‘sensitive’ arms sales announcements late in the day or before a 3-day weekend have happened in the past as well. It appears that one faction within the Biden Administration wants to make a solid point to the PRC about material support for Taiwan in the face of PLA pressure, while another seems to want to minimize that point by announcing it the evening before a long weekend.

Source: See the DSCA website at https://www.dsca.mil/press-media/major-arms-sales

Additional Data:

For more details on Taiwan arms sales, please visit our dedicated defense website at www.ustaiwandefense.com. The post “Taiwan Arms Sales Notified to Congress 1990-2022” contains charts showing a summary of arms sales data by year, and contains a link to the raw data compiled by the Council from DSCA and other sources.

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