In response to the Communist Chinese Air Force’s heightened aggression toward Taiwanese airspace in recent weeks, the United States has now approved a $100 million sale of an upgrade package for the Patriot Missile Defense System inclusive of equipment and service to Taiwan.

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) had delivered the pertinent documents and certification to Congress upon approval of the sale, an upgrade that is meant to “sustain, maintain, and improve” the US Patriot Missile Defense System on the Island.

This report comes after China’s aggressive foreign policy aimed at isolating and exhausting Taiwan into submission has been manifest by increasing air force incursions when it had sent 39 warplanes to Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) just a few days ago, contributing to the heightened tensions within the region. Further ramping up the tensions are the Chinese-Russian statements of support  from Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the Beijing Winter Olympics where Russia affirmed the goal of Communist China regaining possession of the island nation of Taiwan and its citizens.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) originally acquired 7 Patriot Missile batteries between 2011 to 2015 and had expressed interest in procuring more Patriot missiles to improve its air defense capacity if a Chinese invasion of the Asian island were to take place. Patriot III missiles were planned to be purchased by Taipei from the United States from 2025 to 2026, with the MND signing an agreement with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) for new Patriot Missiles worth US$7.26 million. This was done over the strenuous objections by the Communists in Beijing who claim that Taiwan’s ablity to defend itself is a provocation to mainland China.

With the funding now in place for upgrades to Taiwan’s existing Patriot Missile Systems, it can now “help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, economic and progress in the region,” said the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA).

A PAC-3 Missile fired toward a target (Wikimedia Commons). Source:
A PAC-3 Missile fired toward a target (Wikimedia Commons)

Within the agency’s press release, it was stated that equipment and services for the Patriot International Engineering Services Program (IESP) and Field Surveillance Program (FSP) to Taiwan were be done within five years. This also included field surveillance support for the Guidance Enhanced Missile (GEM) and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles to ensure reliability amidst an aging but still highly effective defense system. Raytheon Technologies and Lockheed Martin were determined to be the prime contractors of the upgrade.

Taiwan’s decision to upgrade the Patriot missile system upgrade was said to be a decision made during the administration of former US President Donald Trump. The MND of Taiwan had stated that it was grateful for the approval and gave its thanks to the US government. The arms deal was said to come into effect within a month from today.

“In the face of China’s continued military expansion and provocative actions, our country will maintain its national security with a solid defense and continue to deepen the close security partnership between Taiwan and the United States,” said the MND.

While the United States and Taiwan do not have official relations, the U.S. is the biggest military backer of Taiwan. Tensions were raised when China’s Ambassador to the US Qin Gang stated that if the US continued supporting Taiwan, it would face a military conflict with China.

“If the Taiwanese authorities, emboldened by the United States, keep going down the road for independence, it most likely will involve China and the United States, the two big countries, in the military conflict,” said the Ambassador.

The Patriot Missile Long-Range Air-Defense System

The Patriot, otherwise known as the MIM-104, is the US Army’s primary High to Medium Air Defense (HIMAD) system that functions as an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system, countering tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and aircraft that comes within range.

Developed by Raytheon and produced with Lockheed Martin, the air defense system has a 43-mile range with a speed of Mach 2 with an altitude of 15 miles. PAC-3 (MIM104F) missile canisters, which will be supplied to Taiwan, contain four missiles equipped with a track-via-missile (TVM) guidance system and midcourse correction systems.

The PAC-3 upgrade also features the increased capability to defeat air-breathing, cruise, and ballistic missiles and advanced hit-to-kill technology, equipped with Ka-band millimeter wave seeker technology.

The Patriot System has been used by multiple countries around the world, including but not limited to Spain, Qatar, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Japan, and Poland, to name a few.