Taiwan thanks Washington for weapons packageChina | 5 Aug 2021 3:07 pm
Taiwan's Presidential Office on Thursday thanked the United States government for approving the sale of 40 M109A6 "Paladin" self-propelled howitzers to help Taiwan beef up its self-defense capabilities, CNA reports.
In a statement, Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang said Taiwan's government appreciates the U.S. for continuing to take substantive action, based on the Taiwan Relations Act, to fulfill the security commitments in the Six Assurances.
According to Chang, the package is the first U.S. arms sale to Taiwan since President Joe Biden took office in January.
It includes 40 M109A6 "Paladin" self-propelled howitzers and related equipment at an estimated cost of US$750 million.
On Wednesday, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) under the U.S. Department of Defense said it notified Congress of the deal after it was approved by the State Department.
Taiwan's presidential spokesman said the defensive weapons will benefit the country in establishing solid national defense capabilities and modernizing defensive combat capabilities, while enhancing Taiwan's confidence and ability to uphold peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan will also continue to deepen its cooperative partnerships with the United States and other like-minded countries around the world to jointly maintain peace, stability, prosperity and development in the Indo-Pacific region, he added.
Also Thursday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said the arms package demonstrates the U.S. commitment to helping strengthen Taiwan's defense capabilities and continuing its policy of normalizing arms sales to the country.
In the face of China's military expansionism and provocation, Taiwan will further modernize its defense capabilities in a bid to maintain regional peace and stability, MOFA said.
The Ministry of National Defense, meanwhile, said the M109A6 "Paladin" self-propelled howitzer will be a significant upgrade to Taiwan's existing defensive arsenal, which consists of the older howitzer variants -- M109A2 and M109A5.
The M109A5 was purchased from the U.S. and delivered to Taiwan in 1998, and has remained in service for 21 years.
The Paladin features increased armor, a redesigned internal arrangement for safer ammunition and equipment storage, engine and suspension upgrades, and product improvement of the M284 155mm howitzer cannon.