Complementary to my last post about U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, today’s Taipei Times ran a feature describing the various weapons systems included in the approved package and a small section talking a little about what isn’t in the package but that Taipei would still like to get. F-16s are included in this latter category.
Every time I see a list like this and compare it to what China’s modernized PLA is packing these days, I am always left wondering, why does Beijing get so worked up about these arms sales? The meager amounts of weapons and systems included in this list, while an improvement over Taiwan’s current capabilities, still would amount to little more than a relatively small speedbump. Of course, Taipei’s bet (hope?) is that this “speedbump” would buy them the time necessary in a conflict with China to allow U.S. military forces to intervene. Further, one would think that by this point, in 2010, China would no longer be surprised when the U.S. chooses to act according to its obligation under the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, part of which stipulates that the U.S. will provide Taiwan defensive arms. In the face of the rapidly modernizing PLA just across the Taiwan Strait, it would be hard to characterize this arms package as anything but defensive in nature.
The Taipei Times link is a PDF document.
The ins and outs of the latest US arms package to Taiwan
In late January, the US Department of Defense’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced the approval of a major arms package to Taiwan. Included in the US$6.4 billion deal were PAC-3 missile defense systems and associated equipment, UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters, Osprey-class mine-hunting ships, work on command-and-control systems, and Harpoon training missiles. Also in the pipeline are PC-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft.
While Beijing has reacted with anger at news of the sale, threatening economic sanctions against the US defense companies involved, the Taipei Times takes a closer look at each item and its capabilities. To cap things off, we look at what’s missing — and desirable.
This feature, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.