Saturday, August 30, 2008

Taiwan to receive 60 air launched Harpoon missiles

These will equip Taiwan's F-16 fighter jets

Boeing to Sell Missiles to Taiwan Under Agreement With Pentagon
August 29, 2008

BEIJING -- The U.S. government awarded a contract to Boeing Co. for the sale of antiship missiles to Taiwan, amid a continuing delay in approval for the sale of another, larger American weapons package to the island.

The sale of the 60 Harpoon air-launch missiles to Taiwan was approved by the Pentagon more than a year ago, but the formal award of the supply contract to Boeing's McDonnell Douglas Corp. unit was included Monday in a broader Pentagon statement about weapons-sales contracts. The statement, posted on a Pentagon Web site, said the Taiwan contract is valued at $89.8 million.

The contract announcement follows speculation that the U.S., Taiwan's most important international backer, has at least temporarily frozen weapons sales to Taiwan to avoid angering China, which claims the self-ruled island as part of its territory.

Taiwan's backers in the U.S. have complained that the Bush administration has yet to finalize the sale of a package of weapons that originated with an offer by President George W. Bush in 2001. The Harpoon missiles aren't part of that package.

In July, the top U.S. military official in the Pacific appeared to confirm a suspension of arms sales, saying that the U.S. felt "there is no pressing, compelling need" to sell the weapons to Taiwan "at this moment."

But some analysts have speculated that Washington was instead waiting to proceed with the weapons sale until after Beijing's hosting of the Olympics, which Mr. Bush attended.

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, in an interview this month, reaffirmed the need for the weapons and said that U.S. officials have assured Taiwan that "nothing has been changed" on the arms offer.

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