U.S. approves potential sales of howitzers to Taiwan -Pentagon
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department has approved the potential sale of 40 155mm M109A6 Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer artillery systems to Taiwan worth up to $ 750 million, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.
This comes after a series of arms sales last year that included drones and coastal missile defenses to improve the island's capabilities and prevent a Chinese invasion. The Biden government has approved further direct commercial arms sales to Taiwan since taking office.
The package would include the howitzers, 1,698 precision ammunition guidelines, spares, training, ground stations and upgrades for Taiwan's previous generation of howitzers, the Pentagon said.
The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency informed Congress on Wednesday of the possible sale.
Taiwan's Department of Defense thanked the US government in a statement Thursday, saying the sales would help ground forces increase their "rapid response and fire support capacity."
The department called continued US arms support a "basis for maintaining regional stability".
Like most nations, the United States does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, but is legally required to provide the island claimed by China with the means to defend itself and is its main international supporter, to the annoyance of Beijing.
Despite approval from the State Department, the notification does not indicate that a contract has been signed or negotiations have been entered into.
The Pentagon said BAE Systems Plc is the prime contractor for the weapons.
(Reporting by Mike Stone and Patricia Zengerle in Washington; Additional reporting by Yimou Lee in Taipei; Editing by Dan Grebler and Matthew Lewis)
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