The US Department of State just approved two sets of arms sales to Taiwan. The largest and most objectionable tot the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are the sales of a kind of missile that could threaten forces within the PRC staging up for an invasion of Taiwan.
The larger deal, estimated at $1.008 billion, would involve the sale of 135 AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response, or SLAM-ER, Missiles and related equipment to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States.
The PRC has long claimed sovereignty over the independent island nation of Taiwan in spite of not being able to exercise any such sovereignty. Recently, the PRC conducted war games that simulated an invasion of Taiwan, and has been conducting incursions into Taiwan’s air space. The PRC has also been bolstering its coastal defenses, including missile batteries that could be used offensively as a form of costal bombardment against Taiwan.
SLAM-ER is a GPS guided missile that can be launched from an airframe at a particular set of coordinates, and re-directed in flight if necessary. This would allow Taiwan’s air force to to attack targets within China, such as missile batteries conducting the aforementioned coastal bombardment. In addition, it could be used to destroy ships in port staging to convey invasion forces across the strait.
The PRC stridently opposes the arms sale.
“The move seriously damages relations between the two countries and the two militaries, as well as the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait…. [the US should cancel this deal to] avoid serious consequences to Sino-American bilateral and mil-to-mil relations, as well as peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait… If the U.S. side discards the basic norms of international relations, violates its commitment and acts capriciously and obstinately, China will for sure resolutely strike back.”
Nevertheless, the State Department has elected to proceed. Their timing is good. Just last week, there was a dogfight between Taiwanese F-16V “Vipers” and Chinese Su-30s. The dogfight was won without shooting by the Taiwanese pilots, whose maneuver for position successfully divided the Chinese aircraft and forced them to withdraw. The F-16V is an upgraded version of the now ancient F-16, which first flew in 1974; the Viper variant has an upgraded avionics package. The Su-30 is originally a Soviet Aircraft, first flown in the late 1980s. It lacks the impressive operational record of the F-16, but Indian Air Force pilots using them did win an impressive simulated victory against F-15s (not F-16s) in a war game against American pilots operating under certain restrictions.