State Department Approves $100 Million Patriot Contract for Taiwan

February 8, 2022 Topic: Taiwan Region: Asia Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: U.S.-Taiwan TiesChinaGreat Power CompetitionTaiwanPatriot Missiles

State Department Approves $100 Million Patriot Contract for Taiwan

Taipei’s decision to purchase upgraded U.S. missiles was initially made in 2019.

The U.S. government has approved a $100 million upgrade and support contract for Taiwan’s Patriot missile defense system as tensions escalate between Taipei and Beijing, which has committed to reclaiming Taiwan.

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the agency responsible for supplying U.S. weapons, equipment, and training to foreign partners, indicated that it had delivered the deal’s certification to Congress after the State Department approved it, clearing the legal pathway for the contract to enter into force.

The DSCA claimed in a statement that the upgrades contained within the contract would “help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, [and] economic … progress in the region.”

The statement also claimed that the contract would serve “U.S. national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability.”

Cross-strait relations between Taiwan and mainland China have deteriorated in recent years. Taiwanese citizens have increasingly voted for governments favoring the island’s independence, and Beijing has indicated that it would occupy the island by force if it felt it was necessary. Throughout 2021 and early 2022, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) made repeated sorties of dozens of planes within Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ), although no Chinese planes actually entered Taiwanese airspace without government approval.

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry welcomed the contract’s approval, stating that it would help the island “maintain its national security with a solid defense” against “China’s continued military expansion and provocative actions.” It also praised the ongoing security partnership between the United States and Taiwan, indicating that the sale would further deepen bilateral ties.

Taipei’s decision to purchase upgraded U.S. missiles was initially made in 2019 during the administration of President Donald Trump. Although the sale was delayed pending the State Department’s approval, it is expected to “come into effect” within one month, according to the Taiwanese Defense Ministry.

Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, two of America’s largest defense contractors, have been tasked with upgrading the missiles, according to Reuters.

Although the Chinese government has not yet commented on the contract’s approval, previous contracts have provoked acrimonious comments from Beijing, and Lockheed Martin was sanctioned within China in July 2020 for its role in an earlier missile upgrade package.

Trevor Filseth is a current and foreign affairs writer for the National Interest.

Image: Reuters.