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Taiwan To Purchase Over 1,000 Armed Drones In A New Arms Deal With The US

Taiwan To Purchase Over 1,000 Armed Drones In A New Arms Deal With The US

The United States has approved a $360 million deal to sell Taiwan over 1,000 small armed drones, as the self-governed island seeks to bolster its asymmetrical warfare capabilities, inspired by successful tactics used in Ukraine.

According to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), Taiwan will receive 720 Switchblade missiles and associated fire control systems valued at $60.2 million, along with up to 291 Altius 600M loitering munitions and supporting components for $300 million.

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This sale comes amid escalating Chinese military pressure on Taiwan, including extensive exercises and frequent warplane flights near the island. China’s Communist Party claims Taiwan as its territory and has vowed to reunify with the island, by force if necessary.

Under the Taiwan Relations Act, the US is legally required to provide Taiwan with defensive weaponry, a commitment that has angered Beijing. At the Shangri-La Dialogue defense summit, Chinese Defense Minister Adm. Dong Jun criticized external forces for selling arms to Taiwan and engaging in “illegal official contacts,” referencing the US.

The Switchblade, a small, fixed-wing drone, is a lightweight, precision-guided missile that can be launched from various platforms within two minutes, staying aloft for 20 minutes with a 30-kilometer range. Manufacturer AeroVironment reports its effectiveness in Ukraine.

The Altius 600M, a larger drone, can carry multiple warheads and be launched from land, air, and sea platforms, according to manufacturer Anduril. Both drones can also serve reconnaissance purposes.

Taiwan’s presidential office expressed gratitude for the US’s security commitments, noting this is the Biden administration’s 15th arms sale to Taiwan since 2021. Taiwan aims to strengthen its self-defense and asymmetrical warfare capabilities to protect its democracy and freedom.

However, a backlog of over $19.6 billion in approved but undelivered US military sales to Taiwan remains, including significant asymmetrical weapon systems. Analysts emphasize the importance of Taiwan acquiring more asymmetrical weapons to counter potential Chinese invasions.