By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ISTANBUL (AA) – The US Joe Biden administration approved its ninth arms sale package worth around $619 million to Taiwan, which the self-ruled island said will help “boost the combat readiness” of its air force.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said the State Department has made a “determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale” to Taiwan, including F-16 munitions and related equipment, for an estimated cost of $619 million.
It said the agency delivered the required certification notifying the US Congress of this possible sale on Wednesday.
The sale came on a day when 25 Chinese aircraft flew around the island nation across Taiwan Strait.
On Thursday, 29 Chinese aircraft flew around the island nation of around 24 million people which China claims as its “breakaway province.”
Beijing has time and again urged Washington to halt any military engagement or arms sales to Taiwan. It has also sanctioned defense American contractors for selling weapons to the island nation.
US Congress is expected to approve the latest arms sale, which includes 100 AGM-88B High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM), 23 HARM training missiles, 200 AIM-120C-8 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM), four AIM-120C-8 AMRAAM Guidance Sections and 26 LAU-129 multi-purpose launchers, within this month.
The US defense sales agency said Raytheon Missiles and Defense, and Lockheed Martin Corporation will supply the approved arms to Taiwan.
It added the new arms supply to Taiwan “will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region.”
It will “contribute to the recipient’s capability to provide for the defense of its airspace, regional security, and interoperability with the US,” the US agency added.
Expressing “sincere gratitude” to Washington over the deal, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said: “Weapons are the basis for maintaining regional stability.”