In a statement, the Pentagon said, it has formally notified the U.S. Congress of impending sales of four sophisticated U.S.-made aerial drones to Taiwan. The notification is the step before finalizing the sale of weapons to other countries.
Washington expects the weapons sale to bolster Taiwan’s defenses against a growing belligerence Communist China.
The $600 million deal would be the first such sale since U.S. policy on the export of sophisticated and closely guarded drone technology was loosened by the Trump administration.
The development comes in the wake of the U.S. Administration moving ahead with four other sales of sophisticated military equipment to Taiwan, with a total sale value of $5 billion.
China has yet to clarify on its intention towards the island nation of Taiwan. Beijing considers Taiwan as a wayward province and has vowed to bring it under its control, even by force if necessary. The United States is required by law to provide Taiwan the means to defend itself.
The U.S. State Department’s formal notification gives Congress 30 days to object to any sales, which is unlikely given broad bipartisan support for the defense of Taiwan.
The four MQ-9 SeaGuardian drones, made by General Atomic Aeronautical System, Inc of San Diego, California, would come with associated ground stations, spares and training. While the drones are armable, they will be outfitted with surveillance equipment.
In response to the proposed sales, China’s Ministry of National Defense issued a statement saying, “China strongly urges the U.S. side to immediately withdraw plans of arms sales to Taiwan, cease US-Taiwan military contacts and stop selling weapons to the island.”