The government of Taiwan will allocate $1.4 billion to purchase new warplanes next year to bolster the island’s defense capabilities amid increasing pressure from China.
The money is part of the $16.8 billion defense budget for 2022 approved by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s cabinet on Thursday. It is the country’s greatest defense expenditure to date.
Although the government has not provided specific details regarding the warplanes it plans to acquire, there is speculation that the country is interested in F-16 fighter jets.
However, a recent report by Taiwan News said the budget will go toward 10 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters, advanced sonar and avionics systems, Hellfire missiles, MK 54 or MK 50 torpedoes, laser-guided rockets, and high-powered machine guns.
Several local media outlets also reported that the money would be used to boost missile manufacturing of the National Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, the country’s top weapons maker.
Increasing Pressure from China
Taiwan’s massive defense spending has been triggered by increasing military activities by the Chinese government near the island nation.
China continues to insist that Taiwan is part of its territory and that it is ready to use force to reunite the small island with Beijing.
In June, a total of 28 Chinese military planes, including fighter jets, bombers, and anti-submarine and early warning aircraft, flew into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ).
Senior defense researcher Timothy Heath said that the recent incursions by China are its way of attempting to show the US that it would “respond militarily” to any Western support for Taiwanese independence.
Taiwan’s $1.4 billion budget allocation for new warplanes needs to be approved by the country’s parliament. However, easy approval is expected because Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party has a large majority.