US approves $ 600 million sale of armed MQ-9 Reaper drones to Taiwan

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Taiwan has relied on an implicit US security guarantee for decades (Representational)

Washington:

The United States has agreed to sell four armed MQ-9 Reaper drones to Taiwan, the State Department said Tuesday, in an effort to strengthen the island’s defenses as China escalates its threats.

The $ 600 million sale will help Taiwan’s “continued efforts to modernize its armed forces and maintain a credible defense capability,” the State Department said.

It will also help maintain political stability and military balance in the region, the ministry said in a statement.

Sales include four drones, ground stations, and associated surveillance and communications equipment, but not the bombs or missiles normally associated with them.

The drone deal follows several other major weapons packages to Taiwan announced in recent weeks worth $ 4.2 billion, including powerful harpoon anti-ship missiles, SLAM-ER air-launched cruise missiles, aerial reconnaissance technology and mobile light rocket launcher.

The sales have angered Beijing, which has viewed Taiwan as a breakaway province, since separating from mainland China seven decades ago under a government-in-exile.

While Taiwan has resorted to an implicit US security guarantee for decades, Washington has urged it to hone its own capabilities to withstand China’s efforts to retake it by force.

China’s military has been simulating amphibious landings on Taiwanese territory in recent months and has repeatedly flown planes into the island’s airspace.

The US military has used General Atomics’ unmanned Reapers for long high-altitude reconnaissance missions and for targeted attacks and killings of jihadists in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

The sale is the first after the U.S. government decided in July to partially deviate from the Missile Technology Control regime of 1987, in which 35 countries agreed to restrict sales of unmanned weapons delivery systems.

The decision was to allow the export of medium-speed drones like the Reaper, which had been blocked by the agreement.

(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)

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