Taiwan is reportedly close to signing a $3 million deal with the United States to acquire Stand-Off Land-Attack Missile-Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) missiles, amidst the ongoing Chinese threat.
The missiles are reported to be part of the large proposed arms deal worth $7 billion between the two nations, which will see Taipei acquire advanced weaponry from Washington.
Built by American Aerospace giants, Boeing, the SLAM-ER missile is an advanced stand-off precision-guided, air-launched cruise missile, developed for the United States Armed Forces and their allies.
According to the US Navy, the missiles which are a derivative of the Harpoon anti-ship missile that can strike targets on both land and at the sea “in excess” of 135 miles. “The SLAM-ER is extremely accurate, and has the best (circular error probable) in the U.S. Navy’s inventory.”
According to leading global new agencies like the Reuters and The New York Times, the potential arms deal hinges on the approval of the State Department and the US Congress and also on the financial capabilities of Taiwan.
If the deal goes through, the missiles would add to the sea mines, coastal defense cruise missiles, and Reaper surveillance drones and rocket launchers that Taiwan wants to bring from the US, in a bid to fend off advances by the Chinese military.
Tensions between Taiwan and China are extremely high after the Chinese jets repeatedly breached the median line between Taiwan and China last week. The PLAAF pilots indicated their willingness to continue the practice, telling Taiwanese personnel who attempted to warn them away that “there is no median line,” the Taipei-based China Times newspaper reported.
According to the reports, 18 aircraft of the PLA Air Force buzzed Taiwan, which scrambled its fighter jets to intercept the hostile aircraft. Seen as a show of force, the PLAAF detachment consisted of bombers and escorting fighter jets, the Taiwanese defense ministry stated in a tweet.
Chinese state-run media – the Global Times warned both Taiwan and the US and stated that through these military drills, the PLA has gained substantial experience in invading Taiwan and mastered key data on Taiwan’s defense system. These are rehearsals to merge Taiwan with the mainland, warned the GT editorial.