Taiwan says it can’t buy a new US anti-submarine helicopter

Taipei — Taiwan signaled Thursday that it had abandoned plans to purchase an advanced new anti-submarine combat helicopter from the United States.

Taiwan had previously stated that it plans to buy 12 Lockheed Martin unit Sikorsky MH-60R anti-submarine helicopters, but domestic media sold it as the United States did not meet the needs of the island. Said he refused.

When asked by Congress about the recent changes in Taiwan’s purchase of new US weapons, Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng first mentioned the helicopter case.

“The price is too high, beyond the capabilities of our country,” he said.

The purchase of the other two weapons has also been postponed. The M109A6 medium self-propelled howitzer system and mobile stinger anti-aircraft missile.

Raytheon Technologies stinger is in high demand in Ukraine, which has been used for Russian aircraft, but US supply is shrinking and there are major hurdles to increasing production of anti-aircraft weapons.

Chiu said they had already signed and paid for the Stinger’s contract and would force the United States to deliver it.

“We don’t consider selling weapons a trivial matter, we have a backup plan,” he added without elaboration.

Taiwan states that the United States offers an alternative to the M109A6. This includes a truck-based rocket launcher called the Lockheed Martin High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS).

Chiu said they are still considering that option.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson declined to comment on a particular platform, but “the prompt provision of defense weapons to Taiwan by the United States is essential to Taiwan’s security and we support that goal. We will continue to work with the industry to achieve this. “

Taiwan is embarking on a military modernization program to improve its ability to fend off Chinese attacks, including precision weapons such as missiles.

The Chinese government claims that Taiwan is a de facto independent country, and despite having its own army, democratically elected government, and constitution, the island is unique.

President Tsai Ing-wen supported the concept of “asymmetric warfare.” This involves the development of high-tech, highly mobile weapons that are hard to destroy and capable of accurate attacks.

US officials are urging Taiwan to modernize its army so that it can become a “porcupine” that is difficult for the Chinese government to attack.

The Chinese government is increasing its own military modernization and pressure on Taiwan.

Mr. Chiu recently said that there were many “enemy ships” in the waters around Taiwan, “in principle conflicting” with the Taiwanese army, without giving a time frame. He didn’t give details.

Eight Chinese naval vessels, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, passed between the southern islands of Japan’s main island of Okinawa on Monday. This is a region northeast of Taiwan.

Ben Blanchard, Roger Tongue, Michael Martina