US arms on way to Taiwan, including Stinger missiles
New weapons coming from the US are a boost to the island's sea and air defenses against mainland China
Around 250 FIM-92 Stinger MANPADS (Man-Portable Air-Defense System) missiles, torpedo service-life extension packs, and Standard Missile 2 spare modules are among the latest batch of arms that Taiwan is to take delivery of from the United States for its navy and marine corps.
Taiwan’s National Defense Ministry announced the implementation of the deal, worth NT$13.35 billion (US$453.6 million), on Monday.
“Shipments are already on the way,” a Taiwanese defense official told the Central News Agency.
The Stinger missiles are of the lightweight, shoulder-fired, infrared-homing surface-to-air type but are versatile enough to be launched from tanks, other vehicles and helicopters.
The lethality and economy of these missiles have long been proved in numerous wars including the Soviet incursion in Afghanistan and the Syrian Civil War since their introduction in the early 1980s by the US Army. They are used by militaries across the globe.
It is rumored that the US Secret Service has Stinger missiles to defend the president, a notion that has never been dispelled.
The Taiwanese Army will take delivery of the missiles later this year.
In addition to marine infantry battalions, units slated to receive the Stinger missiles include the navy’s Guang Hua VI-class fast attack boats and Tuo Jiang-class corvettes, which currently lack adequate anti-aircraft weaponry, Taipei Times reported, citing a source in the Defense Ministry.
The Stinger missiles are meant to provide much-needed anti-aircraft firepower to the navy’s smaller combat craft and augment the survivability of ships and marines, while increasing the attrition rate of a foe’s air units, the source said.
The deals were signed with the American Institute in Taiwan – Washington’s de facto embassy on the island Beijing insists is a renegade province of China – in December 2015 after the Barack Obama administration cleared the way for such sale, at a time when Sino-US ties were still amicable.
The stated contractual time frame for the Stinger missile deal covers 2017 to 2020.
“Standard Missile” refers to a family of US-made shipborne guided missiles. Analysts say it’s likely that the spare modules sold to Taiwan are for the RIM-67 Standard ER extended-range surface-to-air and anti-ship missiles, for Taiwan to assemble its own copycat versions to fend off an invasion from the People’s Republic of China in the event of a war, as well as to discourage the People’s Liberation Army’s incessant sea-air intrusions into Taiwan’s defense zones since last year.
The actual commencement of delivery of these arms will once again rile Beijing, though the Chinese Foreign Ministry is yet to state any response.