In a move certain to make China livid, the US State Department on Friday approved the sale of 100 Sidewinder AIM-9X Block II missiles worth $ 85.6 million besides 60 AGM-84L-1 Harpoon Block II Missiles costing $355 million to Taiwan.
The proposed sale of the Sidewinder missiles "will enhance the recipient’s capability to counter or deter aggressions by demonstrated precision against air targets. The Harpoon missiles will help to counter or deter maritime aggressions, coastal blockades, and amphibious assaults", statements from the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) regarding the two approvals said.
Taiwan has been subject to continued Chinese intimidation in the form of overflights and the sailing of warships near the island nation. The Chinese Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) held tri-services drill last month to simulate the landing of soldiers on the island to achieve "unification" (Chinese term for a military take-over of the island of Taiwan).
The Sidewinder missiles are designed to fit on to Chinese warplanes including the f-16 jets which Taiwan has as well the newest F-16V warplanes it had ordered. The Harpoons are designed to be launched from air as well as sea platforms.
The acquisition of the two potent types of missiles will give the Chinese PLA something to worry about as they are considered by experts to be better than competing missiles in the PLA inventory.
Taiwan has been excercising caution in countering Chinese intimidation. However, earlier this week it fired at a suspected Chines drone after issuing a warning indicating a hardening position by the Taipei government.
While the Harpoon missies are made by Boeing, the Sidewinders are manufactured by Raytheon.