Taipei, Aug. 5 (CNA) The United States’ latest proposed arms sale to Taiwan of 40 turreted self-propelled howitzers and related equipment would allow for significantly improved precision strike capability, Taiwanese military analysts said Thursday.

Taiwan urgently needs weapons like the M109A6 “Paladin” howitzer, which is more precise than any artillery in its Army right now, Shu Hsiao-huang (舒孝煌), an analyst at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research (INDSR), told CNA.

Compared with the Army’s current M109A2 and M109A5 howitzers, the Paladin can fire much faster, letting off a round within 60 seconds while on the move, and it is also more agile and precise, as it is equipped with Automatic Fire Control and Global Positioning systems, he said.

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a statement Wednesday that the U.S. State Department had approved the sale of 40 Paladin howitzers to Taiwan and that Congress had been notified.

On Thursday, Shu said DSCA’s announcement of the proposed arms sales was an indication that the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden was continuing its predecessor’s policy of considering arms sales to Taiwan on a case by case basis, rather than in bulk packages.

“The cases by case approach allows Taiwan to present its defense needs to the U.S. more expeditiously to quickly replace its outdated weapons,” Shu said.

Meanwhile, F.S. Mei(梅復興), director of the U.S.-based Taiwan Security Analysis Center, said on his Facebook page that the most critical element of the latest proposed arms sale to Taiwan would be the precision-guided munitions.

Mei noted, however, that Taiwan may have to settle for the M1156 Precision Guidance Kit instead of the more accurate M982A1 Excalibur, which it had hoped to obtain.

The M982A1 Excalibur contains Swedish technologies, which may be the reason why the U.S. cannot supply it to Taiwan, he said.

While the expensive Paladin may not be best choice for Taiwan’s security needs, it is the best option at present for the Biden administration to show support for Taiwan, which currently does not have any other weapons requests that may be up for review in the short term, Mei said.

According to the DSCA, the latest arms proposal includes 40 155mm M109A6 Medium Self-Propelled Howitzer Systems; 20 M992A2 Field Artillery Ammunition Support Vehicles; one Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System; five M88A2 Hercules vehicles; five M2 Chrysler Mount .50 caliber machine guns; and 1,698 multi-option Precision Guidance Kits (PGK), at a total estimated cost of US$750 million.

If approved by the U.S. Congress, it would be the country’s first arms sale to Taiwan since President Biden took office in January.

(By Chung Yu-chen and Emerson Lim)

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