2024-0621: U.S. Arms Sales of Suicide Drones to Taiwan; Taiwan Must Defend National Sovereignty Through Strength, Lai Says

U.S. Approves $360 Million Sales of Suicide Drones to Taiwan

The U.S. Department of State has approved the sales of two types of loitering munitions, also known as suicide or kamikaze drones, to Taiwan for US$360 million, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said on June 18.
The deals would represent the 15th round of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan announced by the Biden administration since 2021.
Included in the two separate packages are 720 Switchblade 300 loitering munition systems and related equipment for an estimated cost of US$60.2 million, and 291 ALTIUS 600M-V suicide drone systems and related equipment for an estimated cost of US$300 million, the DSCA said.
“The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance and economic progress in the region,” the DSCA said in separate news releases announcing the sales.
Taiwan had expressed interest in obtaining loitering munitions to enhance its asymmetric warfare capabilities, sources said last month.
Loitering munitions fly around an area until a target is located, then attack by crashing into it.
The Switchblade 300 is a tube-launched kamikaze drone designed to attack ground troops, which Ukrainian forces have utilized extensively in their fight against Russia’s invasion.
The ALTIUS 600M-V consists of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) loitering munition with extensible warhead and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) camera. It can be deployed from various platforms and in a networked swarm.
The Switchblade 300 and ALTIUS 600M-V loitering munitions or suicide drones that Taiwan has ordered from the U.S. are scheduled for delivery between this year and 2025, the U.S. Department of State said on June 19.
Also, on June 19, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) thanked the U.S. on the social media X for approving the sales, saying it would “enhance our ability to meet current and future threats” in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances.
In a separate press release, the MND described the suicide drones as a new tactical option for militaries around the world that can strengthen deterrence in combination with other precision missile systems.
The MND also thanked the U.S. government for significantly shortening the related review process leading up to the approval of the two packages for Taiwan.

[1] Taipei Times
[2] Focus Taiwan
[3] Taipei Times

President Lai Reiterates Determination to Defend Taiwan’s National Sovereignty Through Strength

On June 19, Taiwan’s President Lai Ching-te reiterated that Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are not subordinate to each other, and that only military strength and capabilities can prevent war and bring peace.
At a news conference to mark one month since his inauguration, Lai officially announced the establishment of three special committees under the Presidential Office to address major global challenges — climate change, health promotion, and social resilience.
Among the three new committees, the National Whole-of-Society Resilience Committee is to improve how Taiwan and the public respond when facing national emergencies, including natural disasters such as earthquakes, as well as the risks caused by outside ambitions to destroy regional peace and stability, he said.
“Only when our entire society possesses a strong will for self-defense and an unwavering confidence in ourselves can Taiwan effectively respond to disasters and risks, and grow stronger,” Lai said.
Taiwan would expand the training and utilization of civilian forces, enhance materials preparation and critical supply distribution systems, and bolster energy and critical infrastructure security, he added.
Lai was asked about former president Ma Ying-jeou’s comment that he was “provoking a war” by saying that the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan’s official title) and the PRC “are not subordinate to each other,” and refusing to accept Ma’s theory that the “first battle will be the last battle.”
Taiwan and the PRC are not subordinate to each other is “a consensus of the society” in Taiwan, Lai said. “The president’s duty is to protect the nation’s sovereignty, maintain the free and democratic constitutional system, and benefit the people, and there is no exception for any president.”
“People in Taiwan love peace and are kind to others, but peace must rely on strength, which means avoiding war by preparing for war,” he said. “Empty promises are not true peace. Peace achieved through strength is a true peace that can be guaranteed.”
Asked about the U.S. government’s approval of potential sales of suicide drones to Taiwan, Lai said that “annexing Taiwan is the PRC’s national policy, and aside from using force, it has in recent years been using non-traditional coercive measures to force Taiwan into submission.”
“Taiwan will not give in. Taiwan’s people will surely defend national sovereignty, and protect their free, democratic and constitutional way of life,” he said.
He thanked the G7 leaders for reaffirming in a communique issued recently on June 14 that “maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is indispensable to international security and prosperity,” and asking China to give up its coercive measures to unilaterally change the “status quo.”
Lai also thanked the U.S. government and the U.S. Congress for their efforts to support Taiwan and maintain cross-strait and regional stability through arms sales and legislation.
“We will continue to strengthen Taiwan’s defense capabilities, not limited to arms purchases, but also by enhancing defense self-sufficiency,” he said.

[1] Taipei Times