Taiwan to buy 400 US anti-ship missiles to face China threat

Air force soldiers load U.S. made Harpoon AGM-84 anti-ship missiles at a combat readiness mission during a press invited event at the airbase in Hualien, Taiwan. REUTERS/Ann Wang/File Photo

(Reuters) – Taiwan will buy as many as 400 U.S. land-launched Harpoon missiles in the face of a rising threat from China, Bloomberg News reported on Monday, citing a trade group’s leader and people familiar with the issue.

The Pentagon announced a $1.17 billion contract for 400 of the anti-ship missiles on April 7 without naming the buyer, saying production was expected to be completed by March 2029. Bloomberg said Taiwan was the buyer.

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The Pentagon declined to comment directly on the deal, but said: “The United States makes available to Taiwan defence articles and services necessary to enable it to maintain a sufficient self-defence capability.”

In 2020, Taiwan said that it planned to buy land-based Boeing-made Harpoon anti-ship missiles as part of its military modernization efforts.

A contract with Boeing that the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command issued on Taiwan’s behalf marks the first time it will get the mobile, land-launched version, the Bloomberg report said, citing Rupert Hammond-Chambers, president of the US-Taiwan Business Council. It had previously purchased the ship-launched version.

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Boeing referred questions to the Pentagon.

This month, U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy hosted Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in California and stressed the need to accelerate arms deliveries to Taiwan in the face of rising threats from China.

After the meeting, Mike Gallagher, the Republican chairman of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, said he would like to look for ways to get Harpoon missiles to Taiwan ahead of those scheduled to go to Saudi Arabia.

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