Taipei, The Ministry of National Defense (MND) confirmed Friday its efforts to procure M1A2 Abrams tanks and other weapons from the United States and welcomed news that the sale could be announced in the near future.
"We welcome [the news] and hope to get the battle tanks as soon as possible," MND spokesman Major General Shih Shun-wen said in response to a Liberty Times report that the process to evaluate Taiwan's request to acquire the tank has been completed and Washington is expected to announce approval of the deal soon.
The 108 M1A2 armored vehicles Taiwan wants to buy are meant to replace aging CM-11 Brave Tiger tanks and M60A3 armored vehicles that have served the military for 20 years, and they will be deployed in northern Taiwan, according to the ministry.
In a statement issued June 6, the MND said it had sent requests for letters of offer and acceptance to the U.S. for 108 M1A2 Abrams tanks, 1,240 BGM-71 Tow missiles, 409 FGM-148 Javelin missiles and 250 FIM-92 Stinger missiles, which were being reviewed by the U.S.
Reuters reported on Wednesday in the U.S. that the Pentagon and State Department informally notified Congress of a potential US$2 billion arms deal with Taiwan, a sign that the sale will go through.
It will still have to undergo a formal and public notification to Congress.
Military sources said the U.S. has sent personnel to Taiwan to help it prepare to repair and maintain the M1A2 tanks.
To reduce the time in which it will get ammunition for the large-sized tank, the MND's Armaments Bureau has been looking to produce the 120 mm M1A2 howitzer now that it already can manufacture the 105 mm M101A1 howitzer, military sources said.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Andrew Lee noted that since U.S. President Donald Trump took office in 2017, Washington has approved three arms sale packages to Taiwan, signifying firm U.S. support for Taiwan's security.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel