Taiwan said it has decided to buy an upgraded version of a Lockheed Martin-made Patriot surface-to-air missile, which could be the first arms sale to the island by the Biden administration, although the US has yet to announce the deal.
In comments to Reuters, Taiwan’s Air Force said it plans to buy Patriot Advanced Capability‑3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles, which will be delivered in 2025 and deployed the following year. The Air Force did not specify the number of missiles Taiwan was purchasing.
A Taiwan Air Force spokesman said the purchase was made based on the “threat from the enemy,” referring to mainland China, and said the missiles would “boost defense capacity.”
Last September, Taiwan started reported incursions of Chinese warplanes into its air defense identification zone (ADIZ). While it makes for an alarming headline, these flights usually pass through the southwest corner of the ADIZ and could be aircraft transiting to or from exercises in the South China Sea.
But since Beijing understands these flights will be widely reported by Western media, the larger incursions are likely meant to send a message. Last week, Taiwan reported 20 Chinese warplanes that entered its ADIZ, the largest number since Taipei began publicly disclosing the flights.
The larger Chinese flights through Taiwan’s ADIZ usually come after Washington and Taipei take steps to boost ties. Last week’s flight of 20 warplanes came after the US and Taiwan signed a coast guard agreement to strengthen maritime security ties. On Monday, after it was reported that a US ambassador visited Taiwan for the first time since 1979, 10 Chinese warplanes made a passage through Taiwan’s ADIZ.