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Taiwan Arms Sales Notified to Congress, 1990-2017

Taiwan Arms Sales 1990-2017

Taiwan Arms Sales 1990-2017

Updated Chart: Taiwan Arms Sales Notified to Congress, 1990-2017

Shows clearly notification packaging/bundling and the long freeze.

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The Trump Administration Announces U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan

The US-Taiwan Business Council today welcomed the decision by the U.S. Department of State to announce its approval of seven possible Foreign Military Sales to Taiwan, with a total value of US$1.363 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) delivered the required certifications notifying Congress of the proposed Taiwan arms sales on June 29, 2017. A direct commercial sale was also notified, bringing the total to approximately US$1.4 billion.

The published FMS Congressional Notifications (transmittal numbers 16-67, 16-68, 16-69, 16-70, 16-73, 16-74, and 16-75) were for SM-2 Block IIIA All-Up Rounds, associated equipment and technical support (US$125 million); MK 54 Lightweight Torpedo Conversion Kits, spare parts and other support and assistance (US$175 million); MK 48 Mod 6AT Heavyweight Torpedoes, other support, spare parts, training, and assistance (US$250 million); Hardware, software, and other upgrades to the AN/SLQ-32(V)3 Electronic Warfare Systems supporting Taiwan’s KEELUNG Class destroyers (US$80 million); AGM-154C JSOW Air-to-Ground Missiles, spare/repair parts and other support and assistance (US$185.5 million); AGM-88B HARMs and Training HARMs, spare/repair parts, testing, and other support and assistance (US$147.5 million); SRP Operations and Maintenance follow-on sustainment (US$400 million).

The US-Taiwan Business Council welcomes these Congressional notifications in adherence to the Taiwan Relations Act, which obligates the U.S. to help enable Taiwan’s self-defense. However, it has been 562 days since the last arms sale to Taiwan in late 2015. The Council questions the impact that delays in consideration and execution of Taiwan arms requests are having on the island’s ability to maintain its self-defense capabilities.

Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers noted that “support for Taiwan remains an essential aspect of the U.S. national security posture in Asia, particularly as increased cross-Strait tensions would fundamentally threaten stability in the region. The U.S. is legally and historically committed to providing Taiwan with arms of sufficient quantity and quality to provide for its own self-defense. Arms sales have long been a mainstay of U.S. security relations with the island, supporting U.S. efforts to deter coercion from the PRC and help provide for Taiwan’s self-determination.

Hammond-Chambers added “The Council supports the return to a normal and regular process for assessing all Taiwan arms sales requests and sales. Packaging several years’ worth of items drives up the overall dollar value of each tranche of notifications. Each Taiwan arms sale also becomes a rare and compelling event, drawing significantly more attention than it might otherwise garner. This creates a more substantial opportunity for Chinese protests and posturing in response to each sale, protests that have had a deterrent effect on U.S. willingness to release needed but advanced systems to Taiwan – such as new-build fighters and submarines. It would be in the U.S. interest to provide less of an impetus for Chinese protests in response to Taiwan arms sales, and moving away from packaging would be a substantial step in the right direction.

The Trump Administration Announces U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan

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The Obama Administration Announces U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan

 

The US-Taiwan Business Council today welcomed the decision by the U.S. Department of State to announce its approval of possible Foreign Military Sales to Taiwan. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) delivered the required certifications notifying Congress of the proposed Taiwan sales on December 16, 2015.

 

The published Congressional Notifications (transmittal numbers 15-27, 15-44, 15-45, 15-72, 15-74, 16-01, 16-05, and 16-06) were for two of the four FFG-7 Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigates that that the U.S. authorized by law for transfer to Taiwan a year ago, and associated materials (at a refurbishment and upgrade cost of US$190 million); 36 AAV-7 Assault Amphibious Vehicles (US$375 million); 13 MK 15 Phalanx Block 1B ship defense Close-In Weapon Systems, upgrade kits, ammunition, and support (US$416 million); 208 Javelin guided missiles, technical assistance, logistics, and program support (US$57 million); 769 BGM-71F-series TOW 2B Aero Radio Frequency anti-armor missiles, support, and training (US$268 million); 250 Block I-92F MANPAD Stinger missiles, related equipment and support (US$217 million); Taiwan Advanced Tactical Data Link System (TATDLS) and Link 11 communication systems integration (US$75 million); Follow-on support for Taiwan’s MIDS/LVT-1 and JTIDS previously procured (US$ 120 million).[i]

 

Taiwan is poised to elect a new President on January 16, 2016. The timing of this announcement is therefore useful as a modest signal to China that the U.S. has equities in the peaceful transition of power on the island, and that it supports Taiwan’s democratic system. However, the Taiwan Relations Act states that “the United States will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.” In light of this recent sale, the US-Taiwan Business Council poses a number of questions for the Obama Administration:

 

  1. Why did it take over four years to prepare this arms package? The last U.S. arms sale to Taiwan took place on September 21, 2011.
  2. Why isn’t Taiwan being offered any new capabilities to counter changes to the Chinese threat over this period?
  3. What impact are delays in consideration and execution of Taiwan arms requests having on the island’s ability to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability?

 

The contents of the arms package announced today – along with the unprecedented four-year delay since the last arms sale – raises serious questions as to whether it serves as a response commensurate to the threat posed by China’s military. The past four years has seen increased Chinese force modernization efforts, and according to the U.S. Department of Defense “the PLA has developed and deployed military capabilities to coerce Taiwan or to attempt an invasion, if necessary.[ii]

 

The Obama Administration’s focus on China military-to-military engagement and other initiatives in which China’s cooperation is viewed as crucial, such as on climate change efforts, is directly and negatively impacting U.S. willingness to maintain consistent and credible support for Taiwan’s self-defense. This in turn directly impacts the seriousness with which China views our intentions to assist Taiwan.

 

Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers noted that “There have been myriad initiatives in U.S.-Taiwan bilateral security relations since the last arms sale in 2011. However, while China has deployed new fighters, submarines, and missiles during the last four years, the U.S. has consistently refused to consider providing Taiwan access to similar platforms, or even aiding their indigenous development.

 

In addition, the process for considering, assessing, and processing Taiwan arms sales is broken. The contorted efforts to provide the minimum over an extended period has amounted to long delays and to the U.S. providing only second-hand equipment and additional munitions for systems already in Taiwan’s inventory. The U.S. is placing its China priorities ahead of our legacy and legal requirement to provide for Taiwan’s self-defense. We see no effort to meaningfully address China’s modernization efforts with new capabilities for Taiwan – not because they are unneeded, but because the political cost to China relations is perceived as being too high. Yet that perception was roundly debunked by the Council and Project 2049 in our 2012 report on Chinese reactions to arms sales.[iii]

 

Hammond-Chambers also said “The process that has seen the bundling of Taiwan arms sales into large packages has run its course. The arbitrary manner in which programs are considered, the absence of a broader strategy for providing Taiwan consistent material support, and the long delays in processing and notifying them to Congress is hampering Taiwan’s ability to mount a serious defense. By bundling programs into packages, the U.S. forces Taiwan to buy all necessary equipment at once rather than in an orderly year-on-year process. If requests go unaddressed for years, or programs are long delayed, how can Taiwan reasonably maintain domestic political support for them, or develop the budget for its ongoing force modernization?

 

The US-Taiwan Business Council supports the return to a normal and regular process for assessing all Taiwan arms sales requests and sales. Additionally, the Council believes that the bilateral security relationship needs to be clear about what new capabilities should accompany ongoing training and exchanges in aid of Taiwan’s self-defense – including addressing quantitative issues impacting its fighter fleet, its requirement for submarines to complicate Chinese invasion scenarios, as well as further improvements in Taiwan’s missile defense capabilities.

 

[i] As of 1:00 pm on December 16, 2015. For details, see the DSCA website at http://www.dsca.mil/major-arms-sales
[ii] See: “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2015” http://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2015_China_Military_Power_Report.pdf
[iii] See: “Chinese Reactions to Taiwan Arms Sales” http://www.us-taiwan.org/reports/2012_chinese_reactions_to_taiwan_arms_sales.pdf

Press Release: The Obama Administration Announces U.S. Arms Sales to Taiwan (PDF)

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Special Commentary: The Obama Administration Notifies Taiwan’s F-16A/B Upgrade Program To Congress. Where Are The F-16C/Ds?

The US-Taiwan Business Council welcomes the news that the Obama Administration will proceed with a commitment to upgrade Taiwan’s present inventory of F-16 A/Bs at a possible cost of US$5.3 billion, the continuation of the Luke Air Force Base training program at a potential cost of US$500 million, and a requisition for up to US$52 million in parts for Taiwan’s F-16 A/Bs, F-5s, C-130s and IDFs. The congressional notifications are attached.

The Council welcomes the Obama Administration’s partial commitment to supporting Taiwan’s efforts to upgrade and modernize its air power capabilities. As we noted in our 2010 report “The Balance of Air Power in the Taiwan Strait”, Taiwan certainly needs to implement a robust mid-life retrofit/modernization program for its existing fleet of F-16 A/Bs. The FMS programs notified to Congress today will help Taiwan address diminishing manufacturing sources and obsolescence issues, improve reliability and maintainability, improve survivability, and update aircraft capabilities to remain abreast of current mission requirements.

Upgraded F-16 A/Bs Are Not Enough to Face the Threat from China

A recent U.S. Department of Defense report states that “China has continued to develop a wide range of weapons and capabilities designed to provide credible military options in a Taiwan contingency.” The report goes on to note that the military threat posed by China to Taiwan continues to grow rapidly.

The Taiwan Air Force is therefore in dire need of a robust and modern fighter fleet in order to prepare for all possible contingencies. The upgrade of Taiwan’s F-16 A/Bs will go some way towards moving the Taiwan Air Force in the right direction, if the upgraded fighters are equipped with modern systems and munitions.

However, with the Taiwan Air Force retiring its obsolete F-5s and prohibitively expensive Mirage 2000-5s, Taiwan will still fall perilously short of the airframes it requires to maintain an adequate air defense force, even with the scheduled upgrade. This shortfall is inherently destabilizing, and if not addressed it will threaten the military balance in the Taiwan Strait and encourage Chinese adventurism in the coming years.

Unnamed Obama Administration officials have been stating – as they did in the Wall Street Journal yesterday – “Taiwan gets them quicker and they are cheaper than C/Ds”.

This is a false statement. The upgrade program is comprehensive, but spans almost 10 years with the first upgraded A/B coming as late as the 6th year of the program. If the Obama Administration were to accept a Letter of Request for 66 F-16 C/Ds now, the entire tranche of new fighters could be delivered before Taiwan receives any of its upgraded F-16 A/Bs.

Secondly, the Obama Administration is suggesting that the choice was between either the F-16 A/B upgrade or the F-16 C/Ds. Again, this is a false choice. It is not either but both programs that are required. The correct approach would have both programs running sequentially, so that as new F-16 C/Ds are delivered to Taiwan – before Taiwan starts pulling front line F-16 A/Bs out of operations – there will be no degradation of Taiwan’s fighter strength. As presently structured, Taiwan will actually see a reduction in the number of operational F-16s over the next 10 years.

The solution to this shortfall is the sale of 66 F-16 C/D fighters to Taiwan, as a follow up and in addition to the announced upgrade of Taiwan’s existing fleet of A/Bs. Together, these two programs would help Taiwan adequately fill the fighter gap, and would ensure that Taiwan has an air force capable of deterring China from provoking or attacking it. A fighter force able to handle all of Taiwan’s many contingencies.

The Council comments on Congressional Notifications for Taiwan Arms Sales:

Special Commentary: The Obama Administration Notifies Taiwan’s F-16 A/B Upgrade Program To Congress. Where Are The F-16 C/Ds?

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Special Commentary: Taiwan Congressional Notifications Released

The US-Taiwan Business Council comments on Congressional Notifications for Taiwan Arms Sales

While there has been a delay of over 7 months for 8 separate Congressional Notifications (CNs) for arms sales to Taiwan, on October 3 the U.S. Department of State released six items for notification: Javelin, Harpoon, spare aircraft parts, PAC-III, E-2T retrofit, and Apache. The total DSCA estimated cost is US$6.463 billion.

Two of the programs in the original request were omitted – the submarine Phase I design program and the Black Hawk program – while the PAC-III program was reduced. [The original request included the Harpoon anti-ship missiles; Apache helicopters (x30 units); PAC-III (x7 units, 6 operational batteries + 1 training battery); diesel-electric submarine design – Phase I; airplane spare parts (mostly for fighters); E-2T retrofit; UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters (x60 units); and Javelin anti-vehicle missiles.]

It seems as if the Bush Administration’s intention today was to create an overall package based on a dollar figure. They viewed the Black Hawks as a large but not controversial program, and therefore it was one they could punt into 2009 with a degree of confidence that the incoming U.S. administration would not view it as controversial and would likely send it to the Hill. Omitting the submarines was not controversial within decision-making circles, and in the case of PAC-III it pared back the buy to reduce its overall cost.

The impasse over arms sales has done immeasurable damage to the U.S.-Taiwan relationship over the past several years, and these Congressional Notifications – while very late and incomplete – are an important and positive step forward in US-Taiwan relations. However, it has taken over 10 months for the notifications to accumulate – an unprecedented action irrespective of Bush Administration claims that this was part of a normal inter-agency process. There is simply no existing example of notifications being stacked in such a manner.

 

Special Commentary: Taiwan Congressional Notifications Released (PDF)
Related DSCA Notices (PDF)

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