© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A US Navy MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter from the “Blue Hawks” of the Strike Squadron 78 Marine Helicopter fires flares during an exercise near the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in the Philippine Sea on April 24, 2017. WE
TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan signaled on Thursday that it had abandoned plans to buy advanced new anti-submarine warfare helicopters from the United States, saying they were too expensive.
Taiwan previously said it was planning to buy 12 MH-60R anti-submarine helicopters, due to Lockheed Martin Sikorsky, a unit of Corp (NYSE:), but local media reported that the US rejected the sale because it did not match the needs of the island.
When asked in parliament about recent changes to Taiwan’s purchase of new US weapons, Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng mentioned the helicopter case first.
“The price is too high, beyond our country’s ability,” he said.
Two other weapons purchases were also delayed – the M109A6 medium self-propelled howitzer system and the mobile Stinger anti-aircraft missile.
Raytheon Technologies (NYSE:) ‘Stingers are in high demand in Ukraine, where they are used against Russian aircraft, but US supplies have been shrinking and there are significant obstacles to producing more weapons. air defense gas.
Chiu said they had contracted the Stingers and paid them, and that they would force the United States to deliver them.
“We don’t consider arms sales a trivial matter and we have contingency plans in place,” he added.
Taiwan says the United States has provided it with alternatives to the M109A6, including Lockheed Martin-built truck-mounted missile launchers known as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS.
Chiu said it is still considering its options on that.
A spokesman for the US State Department declined to comment on specific platforms but said: “The prompt supply of Taiwan by the United States with defensive weapons … is essential to Taiwan’s security, and we will continue to work with the industry to support that goal.”
Taiwan, claimed by China as its own territory, is undertaking a military modernization program to improve its ability to fend off Chinese attack, including precision weapons such as missiles.
President Tsai Ing-wen has advocated the concept of “asymmetric warfare,” which involves the development of high-tech, highly maneuverable weapons that are difficult to destroy and can strike with precision.
US officials have been pushing Taiwan to modernize its military so that it can become a “hedgehog” difficult to attack by China.
China is increasingly modernizing its own military and exerting pressure against Taiwan as it seeks to force the democratically administered island to accept Beijing’s rule.
Mr. Chiu said that recently – without giving a timeframe – there are a lot of “enemy ships” in the waters around Taiwan that are, in principle, “sitting in principle” with Taiwanese forces. He did not give details.
Eight Chinese navy ships, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, passed between islands in Japan’s southern Okinawa chain on Monday, an area northeast of Taiwan.