U.S. Clears Sale Of 400 Anti-Ship Missiles To Taiwan

Credit: Boeing via YouTube

Adding to a flurry of arms export activity in recent weeks, the Trump administration notified Congress of a proposed sale of 400 Boeing RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II anti-ship missiles to Taiwan. 

The estimated $2.37 billion deal announced by the U.S. State Department would include 100 Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems, 4,111 missile containers, 100 transporters, 25 radar trucks and support services.

The notification by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency follows by one week a similar action that cleared Taiwan to buy Boeing AGM-84 Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Range systems, Lockheed Martin Army Tactical Missile System artillery and Raytheon Technologies MS-100 reconnaissance pods. 

All of the export deals still need the consent of Congress and final contracts to be signed by the Taiwanese government. 

The 67-nm. range of the land-based RGM-84L-4 falls just shy of the 70-nm. width at the narrowest point of the Taiwan Strait. 

The proposed arms sales by the Trump administration are bitterly opposed by the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing. Such deals are consistent with U.S. government obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act, a State Department official said. 

“The United States makes available to Taiwan defense articles and services necessary to enable it to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability. 

The flurry of approvals by the State Department come in the waning days of the President Trump’s first term. With the U.S. election eight days away and 86 days before the next presidential inauguration, the approvals now could be viewed in a different light within three months.

With the finalized arms sales to Taiwan as a possible backdrop, the deals could extend an aggressive policy towards China into Trump’s second administration. Alternatively, the approvals now could set up a critical foreign policy challenge in the first days of the first-term of Democratic challenger Joe Biden’s administration.


Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.