The sale of four US-made MQ-9 SeaGuardian drones to Taiwan has reached its final stage of approval after crossing a key hurdle at Congress, Reuters reported citing sources.
The White House is expected to formally notify Congress about the $600 million deal later this week, the news agency said, which will give Congress 30 days to object to the sale.
However, given broad bipartisan support for the defense of Taiwan in Congress, Reuters said, the deal is likely to go through without any hiccups, which is likely to add further strain to US-China ties.
First Deal Since Relaxation of MTCR
The deal would be the first such sale since the Trump administration in July relaxed policies on the export of sophisticated and closely guarded drone technology,
According to the policy change, drones that fly at speeds below 800 kilometers (500 miles) per hour are no longer subject to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).
Last month, the State Department notified Congress about the sales of four weapons to Taiwan, including truck-based rocket launchers made by Lockheed Martin, Rocket System (HIMARS) Stand-off Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) missiles and related equipment made by Boeing, and external sensor pods for F-16 fighters.
Five days later, on October 26, the US proposed the sale of 100 cruise missile stations and 400 land-based Harpoon anti-ship missiles made by Boeing to the island territory.
Meanwhile, the sale of the four SeaGuardians, made by General Atomics, would include associated ground stations and training, Reuters reported, adding that they would be outfitted with surveillance equipment.