The US State Department approved the sale to Taiwan of an anti-tank mine laying system in the face of escalating military threats from China.
As reported by the department on Wednesday, the Volcano system and all its ancillary equipment cost about $180 million.
The system is capable of laying anti-tank and anti-personnel mines from a ground vehicle or helicopter. Experts consider this to be a type of weapon that Taiwan needs to deter or repel a potential invasion from China.
As part of its threats, the Chinese military has sent 71 planes and seven ships to Taiwan in a show of force to intimidate the island it claims as its own, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said on Monday.
China’s military bullying of Taiwan has intensified in recent years, along with rhetoric from its leaders that the island has no choice but to accept eventual dominance by Beijing.
While Washington maintains only informal ties with Taiwan in deference to China, that includes robust defense exchanges and sales of military equipment.
In its announcement, the State Department said the sale of the Volcano system “is in line with the national, economic, and security interests of the United States in supporting Taiwan’s continuing efforts” to modernize its military and maintain a credible defense.
He added that Taiwan “will not have difficulty absorbing this equipment into its military” and that the sale “will not upset the military balance in the region.”
Analysts disagree on what Taiwan’s defense priorities should be, with some preferring more sophisticated weaponry such as advanced fighter jets.
Others propose a more flexible force, heavily armed with ground-based missile systems to engage enemy ships, planes and landing craft.
China’s overwhelming numerical superiority in equipment and personnel leaves Taiwan no choice but to resort to a more “asymmetrical” approach, some say.
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