The State Department Affirms A New Arms Deal With Taiwan

( — On Tuesday June 18, the State Department announced the approval of a $360 million weapons sale to Taiwan. The sale will include about 1000 military drones.

The drones included in the sale will be Switchblades, which are known as “extended-range loitering munitions,” and Altius-600M systems, which are drones, with warheads. Rising tensions between China and Taiwan may have led to the seemingly sudden announcement. China has recently been stepping up its military exercises around Taiwan, which has many concerned that armed conflicts could break out.

Both of the drones included in the sale can be used for reconnaissance. CEO Wahid Nawabi of the Switchblade’s manufacturer, AeroVironment, says that it has been performing well for Ukraine’s defense against Russia. It can stay aloft for 20 minutes at a time and has a range of over 18 miles. The Switchblade is inexpensive, lightweight and precision-guided. It can be launched from various different platforms in a two-minute timeframe. The Altius 600M is larger than the Switchblade but can carry “multiple seeker and warhead options.” According to their manufacturer Anduril’s website, it also has different options for launch, including land, air, or sea.

Earlier this month, Chinese Defense Minister Admiral Dong Jun complained at the Shangri-La Dialogue defense summit in Singapore about external interference in the ongoing situation between China and Taiwan. He referred to “illegal official contacts” in an apparent reference to the fact that Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te held a press conference in Taipei on Wednesday, June 19, where he thanked the U.S. for approving the arms sale. As China considers Taiwan to be part of their territory and has vowed to “reunify” with the island, by force, if necessary, they are expected to express disapproval of the move.

Taiwanese presidential office spokeswoman Karen Kuo has stated that Tawain will continue to strengthen their defenses and defend their constitutional system of “democracy and freedom.” The U.S. State Department claims that the sale will help maintain political stability, military balance, and economic progress. While the U.S. does not formally recognize Taiwan as a separate state from China, under the Taiwan Relations Act, America is legally required to provide them with the means to defend themselves. Taiwan’s defense ministry has released a public statement expressing hope that China will cease military operations around Taiwan.

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