High cost may derail purchase of US helicopters from Taiwan — Radio Free Asia

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A few days after Taiwan confirmed that its project to acquire American-made howitzers had been delayed due to the war in Ukraine, the island’s army is facing another problem in the acquisition of the American defense equipment, this time due to cost.

Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng told a legislative session on Thursday that the asking price for the purchase of anti-submarine helicopters from the United States was “too high and beyond of our abilities”. local media reported.

The Taiwanese navy originally set aside a budget of US$1.15 billion to buy 12 MH-60R Seahawk anti-submarine warfare helicopters made by aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, but the price of the helicopters has reportedly increased.

Chiu didn’t indicate how much more expensive it has become, but a US Defense Security Cooperation Agency The March 15 statement said Spain had been authorized to purchase eight MH-60R Seahawk helicopters, along with support and related equipment, for an estimated US$950 million. This means that 12 helicopters would cost at least US$1.425 billion.

Lockheed Martin said the MH-60R is “the most capable naval helicopter available today, designed to operate from frigates, destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers.” There are currently over 300 units in service worldwide.

Possible delay in missile delivery

On Monday, the Taiwan Ministry of Defense confirmed that the first batch of American-made M109A6 “Paladin” self-propelled howitzers will not be delivered in 2023 as planned, because the production capacity of the American arms industry has suffered. been affected by the ongoing Ukrainian war.

Taiwan reached an agreement last August to purchase 40 M109A6 howitzers and related equipment at an estimated cost of US$750 million.

On Tuesday, the department said another contract to purchase US-made portable Stinger missile launchers could also be delayed.

Taiwan has ordered 250 Stingers, manufactured by Raytheon Technologies, with deliveries to be completed by the end of March 2026, but as the Stingers and other man-portable missile systems are now in demand by the Ukrainian military, the completion date seems unlikely.

Although Washington and Taipei do not have formal diplomatic relations, the United States is committed by law to help provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself. These arms sales have long been an irritant in relations between Washington and Beijing, which considers the island part of China, although Taiwan governs itself.

A file photo of a Chinese Y-8 military aircraft flying IN the airspace between the main island of Okinawa prefecture and the smaller island of Miyako in southern Japan, taken on October 27, 2013 by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.

This week, Taiwan said Chinese Y-8 anti-submarine warfare planes had been put back on maritime patrol near the island after a plane reportedly crashed in the South China Sea two months ago. .

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that on Tuesday, a Y-8 entered the Southwest Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). An ADIZ is an area where foreign aircraft are tracked and identified before entering a country’s airspace.

In March, the island’s intelligence agency said a Y-8 military plane crashed in the Gulf of Tonkin, prompting the People’s Liberation Army to set up a no-shipping zone in adjacent waters to carry out search and rescue operations, as well as military training. .

The alleged crash has not been confirmed by China.

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