The $360 million deal will provide Taipei with hundreds of armed drones and missiles, the State Department has said FILE PHOTO. © Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The US State Department has approved a new weapons sale to Taiwan involving hundreds of armed drones and missiles worth $360 million, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has said.

Under the deal that was concluded on Tuesday, Taiwan will receive Altius-600M systems, which are unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with warheads, and related equipment at an estimated cost of $300 million, the agency said.

The US will also provide 720 Switchblade kamikaze drones known as “extended-range loitering munitions” along with accompanying fire control systems worth $60.2 million, according to the DSCA. Loitering munitions are small guided missiles that can fly around a target area until they are directed to attack.

The weapons deal with Taiwan was not unexpected and comes at a time of increased tensions between Washington and Beijing. Last week, China condemned the US for supplying Taipei with arms, urging the White House to stop a practice that “severely jeopardized peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.”

“We firmly oppose any form of military contact between countries with diplomatic ties to China and the Taiwan region, including the sale of weapons to Taiwan,” Chen Binhua, a spokesperson for China’s State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said last week.

Xi claimed US tried to provoke Beijing into Taiwan attack – FT Xi claimed US tried to provoke Beijing into Taiwan attack – FT

The State Department said the proposed deal “serves US national, economic, and security interests” by supporting Taiwan’s “continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability.” The arms sale will “help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, and economic progress in the region,” the department added.

US defense contractor AeroVironment, which has been supplying Ukraine with the Switchblade suicide drones, said in April that the company had been “gratified by overwhelming user feedback and demand for additional systems.”

The Altius-600M drone can accommodate “multiple seeker and warhead options,” and can be launched from ground, air or sea, according to its manufacturer, Anduril.

Taiwan’s presidential office thanked the US for the latest weapons transfer, noting that it was Washington’s 15th arms sale to the island since 2021.

“Taiwan will continue to strengthen our self-defense and asymmetric warfare capabilities to enhance our deterrence,” presidential office spokeswoman Karen Kuo said.

China has long accused the US of fomenting tensions over Taiwan, and has denounced Washington’s arms sales to Taipei. Beijing has also protested against visits by top US officials to the island, arguing that such practices violate the ‘One-China’ principle. (RT)