Even as India is considering the purchase of General Atomics drones, the MQ-9B Sea Guardian, Taiwan has gone ahead and done a deal for getting four the drones for almost $ 555 Million
Taiwan has signed a procurement contract with the US to purchase four of the Sea Guardian drones, the Country’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ting-yu wrote on his Facebook page on August 31.
The deal has been done after discussions between the two countries. China has been threatening to sanction the countries selling military equipment to Taiwan, however, the US has been undeterred. The US Administration had okayed the sale of the drones to Taiwan some two years ago. The same platform now operates across several countries in Indo-pacific including the two on lease in India.
The Ministry of Defense of Taiwan had invited a military delegation from the US to sign a formal procurement contract for four MQ-9B Sea Guardian UAVs at the American Institute in Taiwan.
The contract came into effect on August 24 and will continue to the end of 2029, with the first drone to arrive in Taiwan in 2025. The costing includes four drones, ground control station-related equipment and support systems.
Taiwan has long distance drone of its own called Tengyun-II , also known as “Cloud Rider,” which was developed by Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), has been upgraded by replacing its engines, adding antennas, and adding landing gear to improve flight performance.
These could now get paired with the MQ-9B, improving the country’s surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in the waters.
Taiwan is facing a hostile environment from China. On September 1, Taiwan said it has tracked 8 warships of the People Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and 53 aircraft of the PLA around its own surrounding region “Armed Forces have monitored the situation and responded to these activities with aircraft in combat air patrol, naval vessels, and land-based missile systems,’ the Taiwan Ministry of Defense said on twitter.
US Taiwan Cooperation
The 21st meeting of the US-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference will be held next month October 2-4 In the US. This will address future US defense cooperation with Taiwan, the defense procurement process, and Taiwan’s defense and national security needs.
The conference will discuss the evolving threat in the Taiwan Strait. It will examine the threat to Taiwan in light of the Russia-Ukraine war, and discuss any potential lessons that could be learned by China, Taiwan, and the United States.
It will also have a session on growth and evolution of Taiwan’s strategic thinking, to improve U.S. industry understanding of the current trajectory for Taiwan defense planning in the short, medium, and long term.
Another session will focus on deterrence and resilience, discussing and measures to improve Taiwan’s defensive posture, and will also address what kind of role US partners and allies such as Japan and Australia could play in ongoing deterrence efforts.
Taiwan F16 and now Sea Guardian
Last month Taiwan deployed the latest F-16V fighter which US based Lockheed Martin sold with upgraded weapons, radar systems, and avionics. These fighter jets help Taiwan to compete with the China which is flying. Taiwan’s F-16V can be equipped with advanced AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles of Raytheon Technologies Corps.
Notably the deal for 66 F-16Vs was firmed up between Taiwan and US when , Dr Vivek Lall was with Lockheed Martin. Now as the MQ-9B drones have been contracted Dr Lall, is the Chief Executive for the General Atomics Global Corporation.