US Approves $360 Million Sale of Armed Drones to Taiwan

US Approves $360 Million Sale of Armed Drones to Taiwan

The United States has greenlit a significant arms sale to Taiwan, approving the transfer of more than 1,000 small armed drones worth $360 million. This move aims to enhance Taiwan’s asymmetrical warfare capabilities amid growing tensions with China.

The arms sale, announced by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), includes:

  • 720 Switchblade missiles and fire control systems ($60.2 million)
  • Up to 291 Altius 600M loitering munitions with supporting components ($300 million)

These drones offer precision strike capabilities and can also be used for reconnaissance, providing Taiwan with flexible and cost-effective defense options.

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Strategic Importance and Battlefield

The Switchblade drone, which has demonstrated effectiveness in Ukraine’s conflict with Russia, can be rapidly deployed from various platforms. The larger Altius 600M offers multiple seeker and warhead options, launched from land, air, and sea.

This sale aligns with Taiwan’s efforts to strengthen its asymmetric warfare capabilities, drawing lessons from successful tactics employed in Ukraine.

US Commitment and Taiwan’s Response

This marks the Biden administration’s 15th weapons sale to Taiwan since 2021, underscoring the US commitment to Taiwan’s defense under the Taiwan Relations Act. Taiwan’s presidential office expressed gratitude for the US support, emphasizing their dedication to enhancing deterrence and defending democracy.

China’s Opposition and Regional Tensions

The arms sale comes amid escalating military pressure from China, including extensive exercises around Taiwan and frequent warplane incursions. China has consistently opposed US arms sales to Taiwan, viewing them as interference in its internal affairs.

Challenges in Delivery and Strategic Shift

While the drone sale represents a significant boost to Taiwan’s defense capabilities, it joins a substantial backlog of approved but undelivered US weapons to Taiwan, totaling over $19.6 billion. Analysts advocate for a greater focus on asymmetrical weapons, which could prove more effective in countering a potential Chinese invasion.

As Taiwan integrates these new drone systems into its defense strategy, the move signals a shift towards more agile and survivable military capabilities in the face of growing regional tensions.

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