White House advances drone and missile sales to Taiwan: Sources

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WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – The White House is moving forward with more sales of sophisticated military equipment to Taiwan, telling Congress on Tuesday (Oct 13) that it will seek to sell MQ-9 drones and a coastal defensive missile system, five sources familiar with the situation said.

These possible sales follow three other notifications first reported by Reuters on Monday that drew China’s ire in the run-up to the Nov 3 US election.

China considers Taiwan a wayward province that it has vowed to reunite with the mainland, by force if necessary.

Reuters broke the news in September that as many as seven major weapons systems were making their way through the US export process as the Trump administration ramps up pressure on China.

The pre-notification to Congress for the MQ-9 drone case is the first after President Donald Trump’s administration moved ahead with its plan to sell more drones to more countries by reinterpreting an international arms control agreement called the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

Tuesday’s other congressional pre-notification was for land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles, made by Boeing, to serve as a coastal defense against cruise missiles.

The US Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees have the right to review, and block, weapons sales under an informal review process before the State Department sends its formal notification to the legislative branch.

Leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations and House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees were notified that the planned weapons sales had been approved by the US State Department which oversees foreign military sales, said the sources, who are familiar with the situation but declined to be identified.

Reuters reported on Monday that informal notifications had been sent to Congress for a truck-based rocket launcher made by Lockheed Martin Corp called a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), long-range air-to-ground missiles made by Boeing called SLAM-ER, and external sensor pods for F-16 jets that allow the real-time transmission of imagery and data from the aircraft back to ground stations.

Representatives for the US State Department and China did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Bastion Balance Seoul.