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US agrees to sell Harpoon, Sidewinder missiles to Taiwan

US agrees to sell Harpoon, Sidewinder missiles to Taiwan

Taipei has secured approval for the purchase of anti-ship and air-to-air missile systems from the United States.  

Taipei has secured approval for the purchase of anti-ship and air-to-air missile systems from the United States.  

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has announced the approval of two separate proposed purchases of AGM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II and AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder missiles to Taiwan for a combined US$440.6 million (AU$649 million).

The Harpoon deal, worth US$355 million (AU$523 million), includes the provision of four ATM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II exercise missiles and related equipment and technical assistance.


“This proposed sale serves US national, economic, and security interests by supporting the recipient’s continuing efforts to maintain a credible defensive capability,” the DSCA statement read.

“The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region.”

The Boeing-built Harpoon missiles would be deployed to support the modernisation of Taiwan’s military, providing a “flexible solution to augment existing surface and air defences”.

Specifically, the missiles would be used to counter or deter maritime aggression, coastal blockades, and amphibious assaults.

“This equipment will contribute to the recipient’s goal of updating its military capability while further enhancing interoperability with the United States and other allies,” the DSCA added.

Meanwhile, the proposed sale of AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder missiles, worth approximately $85.6 million (AU$126.1 million), includes four AIM-9X Block II tactical guidance units and related equipment and technical assistance.

The Raytheon-built Sidewinder missiles are expected to enable Taiwan to counter or deter offensive air-based threats.

The US stressed both the proposed Harpoon and Sidewinder sales would not “alter the basic military balance” in the region.

In addition to approving the potential sale of missile systems to Taiwan, the US has greenlit a request from Taipei for contract logistics support for the Surveillance Radar Program (SRP).

The US$665.4 million (AU$980.5 million) proposal would include program management, minor modifications and upgrades, and related technical support — delivered by Raytheon Technologies.

These announcements come amid ongoing military tension in the Taiwan Strait, particularly off the back of major multi-domain exercises by China’s People’s Liberation Army off the coast of the island-state.

China also continues to breach Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, deploying advanced aircraft, including bombers, to the region.

[Related: Is a Chinese invasion of Taiwan inevitable? ]

Charbel Kadib

Charbel Kadib

News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media

Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres.

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