August 28, 2008 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Taiwan has acquired 60 AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles from the United States to be used by the air force's F-16 fighter jets.
RoCAF F-16A block 20 #6665 from the 5th TFW is parked on the tarmac at Hua-Lien AFB on June 17th, 2007 armed with an AGM-84 Harpoon missile. [A.S.I.A. Archives Images
photo by LMS]
The US$90 million (S$127 million) missile deal comes in a boost of its defense against rival China and is ending what some analysts said has been a U.S. freeze on arms sales that was designed to ease cross-strait tension between China and Taiwan
The anti-ship missiles are made by McDonnell Douglas and delivery is foreseen for 2009,
The sale was announced after Washington affirmed in July that its policy on supplying arms to Taiwan remained unchanged amid speculation of an arms freeze to the island.
Taiwan's air force carried out its first test firing of the AGM-84
Harpoon missiles in 2004 in a display of the island's ability to ward off a Chinese invasion.
China and Taiwan have been diplomatic rivals since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. Beijing describes Taiwan as a renegade province that must be reclaimed by force if necessary.
Taiwan bought 120 AIM-120
missiles (some sources state 200) from the United States in 2000 but they were only delivered after China had test-fired the Russian-made air-to-air AA-12 missiles on June 2002.
Washington had delayed delivery to avoid criticism that it was fuelling an arms race in the Taiwan Strait and only delivered the missiles after Beijing acquired the equivalent AA-12.
Washington has been the island's leading arms supplier, despite switching diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.