Washington welcomes Tsai Ing-wen second term with advanced torpedoes

China | 21 May 2020 2:13 pm

The United States announced Wednesday the latest round of arms sales to Taiwan, including the possible sale of 18 advanced MK-48 Mod 6AT heavyweight torpedoes to the country.

The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs said the package, with an estimated cost of US$180 million, also includes spare parts, test equipment, shipping, training and other related elements of logistical support, CNA reports.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) -- the Pentagon's lead agency for arms sales to allied countries -- has delivered the required certification notifying the U.S. Congress of the possible sale, according to a State Department press release.

"The proposed sale will improve the recipient's capability in current and future defensive efforts. The recipient will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen homeland defense," the statement said.

In a Bureau of Political-Military Affairs tweet posted following the arms sale announcement, the bureau links the approval to the inauguration of President Tsai Ing-wen's second term Wednesday.

"As we welcome (Tsai's) inauguration for her 2nd presidential term this week, it's worth remembering why the U.S. has long considered Taiwan a force for good -- and why we are committed to supporting its defense," said the tweet.

Without directly mentioning the latest sale, René Clarke Cooper, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, meanwhile, said in a separate tweet that the U.S. is looking forward "to the future and our continued partnership with #Taiwan toward peace and security across the Taiwan Strait and the region."

In Taipei, Taiwan's defense and foreign ministries both expressed gratitude toward the announcement, saying that it shows the U.S. has been consistent in helping the country to defend itself.

Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said the latest batch of torpedoes will be used to boost Taiwan's indigenous submarine project.

It also shows that the U.S. supports the nation's ongoing project to build its own submarines, he added.

The latest announcement is the sixth round of arms sales packaged the U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has announced since assuming office in January 2017.

The last time U.S. announced major arms sales to Taiwan was in August 2019 in the sale of 66 F-16 C/D Block 70 fighter jets, commonly known as the F-16Vs.

The U.S. has previously sold 46 MK-48 Mod 6AT heavyweight torpedoes to Taiwan in 2017 as part of an overall US$1.4 billion deal.

Based on a list of steps previously provided by Taiwan's military that are involved when Taipei asks Washington to sell it weapons, once a request is made, if the U.S. gives it a green light, Washington sends a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) to Taipei detailing its offer.

Taipei then reviews the offer and completes a proposal for the procurement project before sending the LOA back to Washington.

Various U.S. government branches then review the proposal before the U.S. government notifies Congress of the sale and the DSCA makes the deal public.

The process is completed once both sides sign the LOA, according to Taiwan's military.

This is the process in theory, but in a number of recent cases, the U.S. side has notified Congress and the DSCA has made the deal public before the U.S. side sent an LOA to Taiwan.

 

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