State Department Authorizes $2.37B Harpoon Missile Sale to Taiwan

October 26, 2020 5:57 PM
The Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Princeton successfully launches a Block II Harpoon in the Naval Air Systems Command Sea Test Range off the coast of southern California. US Navy Photo

The U.S. State Department has authorized a possible $2.37 billion sale of Harpoon missiles to Taiwan.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency on Monday announced the authorization and that it had informed lawmakers of the potential sale. The deal, should it go through, could feature as many as 400 Harpoon Block II missiles and 100 Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems, according to a DSCA news release.

“This proposed sale will improve the recipient’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing a flexible solution to augment existing surface and air defenses,” the release reads.

“The recipient will be able to employ a highly reliable and effective system to counter or deter maritime aggressions, coastal blockades, and amphibious assaults. This capability will easily integrate into existing force infrastructure. The recipient will have no difficulty absorbing these systems into its armed forces,” it continues.

The announcement of the prospective sale comes on the same day that China said it will sanction several American defense contractors due to possible weapons deals with Taiwan.

“To safeguard our national interests, China decided to take necessary measures and levy sanctions on U.S. companies such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing Defence, and Raytheon, and those individuals and companies who behaved badly in the process of the arms sales,” a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said, according to a Reuters report.

Boeing builds the Harpoon missiles that Taiwan is seeking in the potential foreign military sale that DSCA informed lawmakers of today.

“The United States maintains an abiding interest in peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and considers the security of Taiwan central to the security and stability of the broader Indo-Pacific region,” a State Department official said. “Our longstanding policy on defense sales to Taiwan remains consistent across seven different U.S. administrations, and contributes to the security of Taiwan and the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

China disclosed its plans for the sanctions on the same day the U.S. and Japan started a military exercise in the Pacific. The biennial Keen Sword 21 exercise will continue until Nov. 5 in Japan, nearby waters and the island of Okinawa, according to a Navy news release.

“An estimated 9,000 personnel from the U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps will participate, including ships from the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and more than 100 aircraft from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, USS Ashland (LSD 48), HMCS Winnipeg (FFH 338), Commander Task Force 72 and 5th Air Force,” the Navy said in the release.

“Units from the U.S. military and their JSDF counterparts will train in a comprehensive scenario designed to exercise the critical capabilities required to support the defense of Japan and respond to a crisis or contingency in the Indo-Pacific region,” the service continued.

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne is a reporter for USNI News. She previously covered the Navy for Inside Defense and reported on politics for The Hill.
Follow @MalShelbourne

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