The American Government’s commitments to Taiwan is not a mere aggressive warning to China. Amid the situations developing in the South China Sea, Washington has been quick to clear pending FMS (Foreign Military Sales) propositions for the Island nation.
We already covered the sales of 66 units of the mighty F-16 Block 70/72 “Viper” jets for Taiwan, and the same company, Lockheed Martin, had been awarded a $183 million contract to provide 28 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) for the U.S. Army.
Now, according to the reports, White House is also moving forward to push the sales of HIMARS to Taipei.
Reuters, in September, had reported that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the US export process as the Trump administration ramped up pressure on China.
When asked for a response from the embassy, China urged Washington to halt the weapons sales to its “separatist” state Taiwan, quoting “lest it should gravely harm China-US relations and cross-Strait peace and stability.”
It said that “China consistently and firmly opposes US arms sales to Taiwan and has firm resolve in upholding its sovereignty and security,” reported AlJazeera.
It was informed that the Leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees were notified that three of the planned weapons sales had been approved by the US State Department which oversees Foreign Military Sales.
The three weapon systems include the Truck based multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) made by Lockheed Martin, as discussed before, the HIMARS, Long-Range SLAM-ER air-to-ground missiles made by Boeing, and external sensor pods for the F-16s of the ROCAF.
The report also mentioned that “Notifications for the sale of other weapons systems, including large, sophisticated aerial drones, land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles and underwater mines, to deter amphibious landings, have yet to reach Capitol Hill, but these were expected soon.”
The SLAM-ER missiles are capable of hitting enemy targets at maximum ranges of upto 270 kilometers, which can easily destroy PLA targets at the Mainland’s coast which is just about 160 kilometers from Taiwan. It is said that the PLA-Navy’s ships would be most vulnerable to the missile, which is highly accurate with a near-zero circular error probability (CEP).
According to Military.com, the SLAM-ER was the first weapon to feature Automatic Target Acquisition (ATA), a revolutionary technological breakthrough that helps improve target acquisition in cluttered scenes, overcomes most IR countermeasures, and mitigates the effects of environmentally degraded conditions.
The SLAM-ER is also the first weapon system with a moving target capability from standoff ranges. The SLAM-ER can be launched and controlled by F/A-18C/D, P-3s, and S-3 platforms. It can also be controlled by the F/A-18E/F.