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DEFENSE/U.S. lawmakers urge accelerated delivery of arms to Taiwan

10/27/2023 12:39 PM
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U.S. Capitol Hill is seen in this undated CNA file photo.
U.S. Capitol Hill is seen in this undated CNA file photo.

Washington, Oct. 26 (CNA) U.S. House of Representatives members Mike Gallagher and Young Kim have urged the U.S. Navy to accelerate what it called "alarming delays" in delivering weapons to Taiwan to deal with China's increasing coercion of the country.

In a letter issued Thursday, the Republican lawmakers asked Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro to respond in writing by Nov. 8 to a series of questions on when certain weapons systems the United States has committed to sell to Taiwan will be contracted or delivered.

It asked when the delivery of 400 Harpoon missiles and 100 Harpoon Coastal Defense System (HCDS) launch systems and radar units would be completed and when the Navy would award contracts for 60 air-launched Harpoon missiles and 135 air-launched SLAM-ER missiles.

According to the letter, the Navy entered into a manufacturing contract for the production of the HCDSs in March 2022, but it was not until April 2023 -- two and half years after the sale was announced -- that it did the same for the production of the 400 Harpoon missiles.

The Navy's delays in awarding manufacturing contracts for these missiles have created "unacceptable uncertainties" in the delivery of the weapons to Taiwan, potentially limiting Taiwan's ability to deter a Chinese invasion that U.S. officials have warned may happen by 2027, the letter said.

With more than 340 warships, China currently possesses the largest naval fleet in the world, the letter said, and Taiwan will have to be turned "into a porcupine, stockpiled with an arsenal of weapons that can target the Chinese fleet and prevent the People's Liberation Army (PLA) from establishing a lodgment in Taiwan."

"At this hour of danger, however, when the United States should be arming Taiwan to the maximum to strengthen its defenses and deter Chinese aggression, bureaucratic delays within the Navy are impeding the timely production and delivery of key weapons to Taiwan," the letter said.

(By Chiang Chin-yeh and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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