The U.S. State Department has approved a spare parts support package for Taiwan to maintain its fleet of military aircraft, despite previous practices of approving such sales on the island in smaller packages.
According to a Foreign Military Sales notification with the Defense and Security Cooperation Agency to Congress issued Monday, approval may be given to “provide funds for blanket order requisitions, within Cooperative Logistics Supply Support Arrangement for stock replenishment way to obtain standard spare parts, and repair/replace of spare parts for the F-16, C-130, F-5, Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF), other aircraft systems and subsystems, and other connected components of logistics and program support” for the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States, or TECRO.
All DSCA notifications are certainly not final; if cleared from the Senate, procurement quantities and expenses can certainly still alternation in final negotiations.
The total estimated program charges are $330 million which is significant, since it marks going back to the practice of which support packages with a single notification and approval the first time since 2011, each time a similar package worth $52 million was approved under the Obama administration.
Though not militarily significant, the most recent move comes against a backdrop of recent trade tensions and sanctions against Chinese entities for China’s buying of Russian weapons. The approval is likely to further inflame relations relating to the United States and China.
This is the second major arms sale to Taiwan within the Trump administration, and can enable Taiwan to sustain its fleet of Northrop Grumman F-5E/F aircraft, Lockheed Martin F-16A/B fighter jets and C-130 transport planes. The U.S. had previously cleared a package of air-launched missiles, torpedoes along with other support equipment worth $1.3 billion to Taiwan in June this season.
However, arms sales from the U.S. have slowed under previous administrations, while China has embarked over a massive military modernization drive, and also the military balance through the Taiwan Strait is currently almost overwhelmingly in China’s favor.
Taiwan has requirements for a variety of military capabilities, including new fighter jets, because it is 1970s-era F-5E/Fs are set to be retired soon as well as other fighters are about 20 years old.
China holds the self-governing island of Taiwan as being a breakaway province and contains not ruled out using force to retake it; arms sales to Taiwan usually cause a diplomatic backlash. The United States does not have any formal relations with Taiwan contained in the “One China” policy, even though it has previously provided arms required for “self-defense” on the island underneath the Taiwan Relations Act.