Taiwan is seeking to acquire long-range, air-launched cruise missiles from the United States, a defense official said in April 2021, as the democratic island bolsters its forces in the face of increasing pressure from the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
While Taiwan is developing its own long-range missiles to give it the ability to strike back deep into the PRC in the event of war, it has also looked to the U.S. to help provide more advanced weaponry.
Asked in Parliament which weapons systems Taiwan wants to buy, Lee Shih-chiang, head of the Taiwan Ministry of National Defense’s strategic planning department, named Lockheed Martin Corp.’s AGM-158.
“We are still in the process of seeking it” from the U.S., Lee said. “Communication channels are very smooth and normal.”
The AGM-158 JASSM — joint air-to-surface standoff missile — has a range of almost 1,000 kilometers depending on the model and can be fixed to aircraft including F-16s, which Taiwan operates.
Lockheed Martin says the missile is designed to destroy well-defended fixed or relocatable targets and can be launched from outside the range of air defense systems.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has stepped up military activity near Taiwan as it tries to force the government in Taipei to accept Beijing’s claims of sovereignty.
Taiwan’s Armed Forces are in the midst of a modernization program to offer a more effective deterrent, including the ability to hit bases far from the Chinese coast. They traditionally have concentrated on defending the island from a Chinese attack. (Pictured: Taiwan Soldiers participate in a January 2021 military drill aimed at repelling a potential attack on the democratic island by the People’s Republic of China.)
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has stressed the importance of developing an “asymmetrical” deterrent, using mobile equipment that is hard to detect and destroy and capable of hitting targets far from the island.
As Taiwan’s main foreign arms supplier, the U.S. has been eager to create a military counterbalance to Chinese forces, building on an effort known within the U.S. Department of Defense as “Fortress Taiwan.”
The CCP views Taiwan as sovereign Chinese territory and has never renounced using force to bring it under its control.
IMAGE CREDIT: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS