Taipei, Nov. 13 (CNA) Taiwan has received a draft letter of offer and acceptance (LOA), a contract between the United States military and a foreign customer, detailing an offer from the Pentagon to sell more than 100 M1A2 Abrams tanks to Taiwan, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Wednesday.
Taiwan's military has been seeking to purchase new tanks from the U.S. to augment its surface battle readiness since 2000. In July, the U.S. Department of State approved a possible sale to Taiwan of 108 M1A2 Abrams tanks, Stinger man-portable air defense systems, and other related equipment worth over US$2.2 billion.
At a joint hearing of the Finance Committee and the Foreign and National Defense Committee at the Legislative Yuan Wednesday, Defense Minister Yen De-fa (嚴德發) told legislators that the U.S. has already sent a draft LOA on the M1A2 deal to Taiwan.
However, he did not reveal when the LOA was received.
Meanwhile, Chief of Staff of the Republic of China (R.O.C.) Army Yang Hai-ming (楊海明) said during the same hearing that the R.O.C. Armed Forces will sign the LOA at the end of November or early December after reviewing it.
According to a military official familiar with the purchase, Taiwan received only a draft version of the LOA. The U.S. will send a formal LOA after Taiwan confirms details such as the items, services and price.
The U.S. side recently sent technical personnel to Taiwan to make proposals regarding maintenance plants, oil depots and other related facilities, he said.
According to the procedures released by the MND on requesting arms sales from the U.S., Taiwan first sends a request according to its operational requirements. Should such a request receive a green light, the U.S. sends an LOA to Taiwan detailing its offer.
Taipei then reviews the offer and completes a proposal for the procurement project before sending the LOA back to the U.S.
Various U.S. government branches then review the proposal before the U.S. government notifies Congress of the sale and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency under the Department of Defense makes the deal public.
Currently, the R.O.C. Armed Forces have about 1,000 battle tanks, mostly aging M60A3 and CM-11 models.
Should the deal go ahead, the M1A2, which is considered by many to be the most modern battle tank in the world owing to its superior fire control system, will be assigned to the Sixth Army Corps, which is responsible for the security of northern Taiwan, where most central government agencies are located, the MND said.