Taipei (The Times Groupe)- Taiwan announced on Thursday that it had abandoned plans to buy advanced new anti-submarine warfare helicopters from the United States because they were too expensive.
Taiwan had earlier announced plans to purchase 12 MH-60R anti-submarine helicopters from Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) unit Sikorsky. Taiwanese media, however, reported that the United States had rejected the sale since it did not meet Taipei’s needs.
Chiu Kuo-cheng mentioned the helicopter case first when he was asked in parliament about recent changes to Taiwan’s purchases of U.S. weapons.
“The price is too high, beyond the capability of our country,” he said.
Other arms purchases have also been delayed, including the M109A6 Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer artillery system and mobile Stinger anti-aircraft missiles.
In Ukraine, Raytheon Technologies’ (RTX.N) Stingers have been used against Russian aircraft, but U.S. supplies have declined and there are significant obstacles to producing more of the anti-aircraft weapons.
Chiu said they have already signed the contract and paid for the Stingers, and they plan to pressure the United States to deliver them.
“We do not view arms sales as a trivial matter, and we have backup plans,” he said without further explanation.
Taiwan says the United States offered it alternatives to the M109A6, including rocket launchers mounted on trucks made by Lockheed Martin called the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS.
They are still considering their options on that front, Chiu said.
Despite being claimed by China as its own territory, Taiwan is undertaking a military modernisation programme to strengthen its ability to fend off a Chinese attack with precision weapons like missiles.
Tsai Ing-wen advocates asymmetric warfare, which involves developing high-tech, highly mobile weapons that are hard to destroy and can deliver precise attacks.
U.S. officials have been pushing Taiwan to upgrade its military so it can become a “porcupine”, hard to attack by China.
With the goal of forcing the democratically governed island to accept Beijing’s rule, China has stepped up its own military modernization and pressure against Taiwan.
During the recent period – he did not specify when – there were many “enemy ships” in the waters around Taiwan, which “stand off” with Taiwanese forces, though he did not provide details.
A total of eight Chinese vessels, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, passed between islands in the southern Okinawa chain of Japan on Monday, which is to the northeast of Taiwan.