Taiwan announced on Thursday that it has cancelled a deal to purchase powerful modern anti-submarine warfare helicopters from the US, citing the cost as a reason.
Taiwan had previously announced plans to purchase 12 MH-60R anti-submarine helicopters from Lockheed Martin Corp’s Sikorsky arm, but domestic media reported that the transaction had been rejected by the US because it did not meet the island’s needs.
When asked about recent modifications in Taiwan’s purchases of new American weaponry in parliament, Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng brought up the helicopter case first.
‘The price is far too expensive, far above our country’s capability,’ he remarked.
M109A6 Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer artillery systems and mobile Stinger anti-aircraft missiles are two more weapons procurement that have been postponed.
Stingers from Raytheon Technologies are in high demand in Ukraine, where they have been used against Russian aircraft, but US supplies have run out, and developing more of the anti-aircraft weapons faces substantial challenges.
Chiu stated that they had already signed the contract and paid for the Stingers, and that they would force the US to deliver them.
‘We don’t regard arms sales as a minor concern, and we have contingency preparations,’ he continued, without going into detail.
Taiwan claims the US has given it alternatives to the M109A6, including Lockheed Martin’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, truck-based rocket launchers.
Chiu stated that they were currently weighing their options in this regard.
Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, is undergoing a military modernization programme to increase its ability to defend itself against a Chinese attack, notably with precision weaponry such as missiles.
President Tsai Ing-wen has pushed for ‘asymmetric warfare,’ which entails building high-tech, highly mobile weapons that are difficult to dismantle and can deliver precise attacks.
Officials from the United States have been pressuring Taiwan to modernise its military so that it can become a ‘porcupine’ that is difficult to attack by China.
China has stepped up military modernization and pressure on Taiwan in an attempt to force the democratically run island to recognise Beijing’s leadership.