US approves drone sale to help Taiwan detect China invasion

US approves drone sale to help Taiwan detect China invasion

Washington has sold Taipei weapons worth $4.8bn in the past fortnight

The US has approved the sale of four sophisticated drones to Taiwan, which will help Taipei to spot Chinese preparations for an attack.

The sale of the drones is the final aspect of a weapons package worth nearly $4.8bn. US defence experts said the deal was vital if Taiwan was to deter an invasion or counter a blockade by the vastly more powerful People’s Liberation Army.

The MQ-9B Sea Guardian unmanned aerial vehicles are the maritime surveillance variant of the Reaper drone the US Air Force has used in Iraq and Afghanistan for more than a decade.

They will be equipped with control systems and a range of radar, imaging and targeting systems that will cost $600m, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency said.

The drone sale approval follows notifications to Congress of a number of weapons sales since October 21: Harpoon coastal defence missiles worth $2.37bn; HIMARS mobile artillery rocket systems worth $436m; SLAM-ER air-launched land attack missiles worth $1bn; and reconnaissance equipment for F-16 fighters with a price tag of $367m.