USTBC Comments on the Proposed FMS of Data Link System Upgrade Planning to Taiwan

February 22, 2024

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Press Release:
The US-Taiwan Business Council Comments on the Proposed Foreign Military Sale of Advanced Tactical Data Link System Upgrade Planning to Taiwan

(Arlington, Virginia, February 22, 2024)

The US-Taiwan Business Council today welcomed the announcement of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Taiwan of Advanced Tactical Data Link System Upgrade Planning and related equipment at an estimated total cost of US$75 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) delivered the required certification notifying Congress of the proposed Taiwan arms sale on February 21, 2024.

The published Congressional Notification (transmittal number 24-09) is for FMS Cross Domain Solutions (CDS), High Assurance devices; Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, communications equipment, requirements analysis, engineering, technical services, and other related elements of logistics and program support.

Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers commented, “We welcome this ongoing normalized and regularized arms sales process. But we again see a focus on sustainment, with little or no consideration of the broader challenges that Taiwan is facing – including blockade and interdiction scenarios, along with grey zone activities. We echo incoming Indo-Pacific Commander Samuel J. Paparo’s recent U.S. Senate testimony, where he said that ‘If we’re just planning for an invasion, we’re leaving a wide range of military options unplanned for.’

The asymmetric approach is one piece of the puzzle, not the whole puzzle, and the Administration needs to broaden its approach. Our security assistance should include capabilities allowing Taiwan to respond to all its challenges, not just the threat of an invasion. In May 2022, we commented on security assistance focused solely on a D-Day-style attack by PLA forces, citing its shortcomings. We have consistently noted this point in previous comments on recent arms sales, which have focused almost exclusively on munitions and sustainment.

Hammond-Chambers added, “The ongoing issues surrounding Kinmen call for a robust Taiwan coast guard that can patrol its territorial waters. Training and interoperability should be the primary goals, along with accelerating the expansion and modernization of the Taiwan Coast Guard fleet. Transferring existing Sentinel Class U.S. Coast Guard boats to Taiwan – while replacing the U.S. inventory with newer boats – could be one way to accomplish that. There is precedent for this sort of ship transfer, and ongoing allocation of U.S. financial resources could absorb costs. 

Blockade scenarios require anti-submarine vessels and helicopters, with larger ships required to patrol Taiwan’s territorial waters. Taiwan could build such ships in domestic yards, while sourcing subsystems internationally. In the face of China’s relentless grey zone pressure, Taiwan’s burgeoning fighter fleet – which will top 200 advanced F-16s by the end of 2026 – also requires support aircraft.

Hammond-Chamber concluded by saying “The U.S. appears to be dismissing these other challenges for now, potentially creating current and future vulnerabilities for Taiwan.

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 1990-2024” contains charts showing a summary of arms sales data by year, along with a link to the raw data compiled by the Council from DSCA and other sources.

Save the Date:

The 2024 US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference will take place September 22-24, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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