Taiwan seeks alternatives as US weapons deliveries focus on Ukraine — Analysis
Taipei is weighing other options after its howitzer order was ‘crowded out’ of American production lines amid the Ukraine crisis
After being informed that 40 howitzers systems would be delivered by the US in three years, Taiwanese officials of defense were forced to regroup to plan for artillery force. This was because Washington is trying to provide more weapons for war-torn Ukraine.
Taipei’s $750 million order was “crowded out” of US production lines, delaying delivery to 2026 at the soonest, rather than starting in 2023 as planned, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said on Monday. To fill this gap, the Ministry of National Defense is now looking at alternative weapons systems such as Lockheed Martin Corp.’s truck-based rocket launchers and will present a budget proposal after a final decision.
Taiwan wants to modernize its army with long-range and precision weaponry in order to defend itself against an attack from mainland China. China considers Taiwan a separatist province. The artillery order was approved last year, making it Taiwan’s first arms deal with the US since President Joe Biden took office, and it was to include 40 155mm M109A6 self-propelled “Paladin” howitzer systems. This also covers related equipment like precision guidance and support vehicles.
Biden’s administration has ramped up the delivery of heavy weapons, including howitzers, to Ukraine to help Kiev repel Russian forces. Washington promised Kiev 90 howitzers, 140,000 rounds in 155mm ammunition and $15 billion worth of weapons. Biden wants to get the approval of lawmakers for $33B in extra aid to Ukraine.
Last year’s chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the administration’s refusal to send American troops to fight Russians in Ukraine have called into question Washington’s commitment to protecting Taiwan. Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised that Taiwan would be protected. “all necessary means to defend itself against any potential aggression.”
Officials from Taiwan are monitoring the Ukraine conflict closely “very carefully”Are you looking? “what we can learn from Ukraine in defending ourselves,” the disputed island republic’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, told CNN on Sunday. He also said, “I think the Chinese government must be thinking or calculating how the US or other major countries are going to come to Taiwan’s help or whether they’re going to come to Taiwan’s help. If Taiwan does not have any support, I think that’s going to be a green light to aggression.”
Taiwan drawing ‘lessons’ from Ukraine conflict
Beijing, which has blamed the US and other NATO members for instigating the Ukraine crisis, has repeatedly warned against US meddling in Taiwan, saying it will take steps to defend China’s territorial integrity.