Sources told Reuters that a US sale of four sophisticated drones to Taiwan crossed a hurdle in Congress and is close to the final stages of approval. The sale of four MQ-9 SeaGuardian drones is worth approximately $600 million and would be the latest in a string of US arms sales to Taipei.
The potential sale of MQ-9s would be the first since President Trump loosened export restrictions for advanced drones. In July, the Trump administration announced it was reinterpreting the Missile Technology Control Regime, an international arms control agreement that sets limitations on the export of missiles and unmanned delivery systems.
In October, the State Department notified Congress of its intent to sell four other weapons systems to Taiwan worth approximately $4.2 billion altogether. Some of the packages approved in October include weapons that have the capability of striking coastal areas in mainland China, the first meaningful offensive weapons sold to Taiwan since the severed diplomatic relations with Taipei in 1979.
Since 1979, the US has armed Taiwan to discourage mainland China from invading the island. Tensions between the US and China are the highest they’ve been in decades, and the Trump administration has taken steps to increase ties with Taipei as a way to counter Beijing in the region.