The Taiwanese defense ministry has announced that it is considering purchasing alternative weapons after being informed of a delay in supplying an artillery system from the US.
The two allied nations signed an agreement last year to deliver 40 M109A6 medium self-propelled howitzers for $750 million.
The weapon system was scheduled for delivery by 2023 but postponed to 2026 due to a “crowded production line.”
Because of the delay, the Southeast Asian nation is considering other precision and long-range weapon systems, such as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) from Lockheed Martin.
The procurement of new high-powered weapon systems is part of Taiwan’s ongoing modernization efforts amid increasing tensions with China.
Last month, the US approved the sale of up to $95 million in training and equipment to support the island’s Patriot Air Defense System.
Proposed Alternative: HIMARS
The US government had informed the Taiwanese defense ministry that the production of self-propelled howitzers for Taiwan is being affected by the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The island nation is reportedly reviewing and evaluating the HIMARS proposal before making a final decision.
The HIMARS is a multiple-launch rocket system that can be mounted on a military truck to launch the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) series of rockets and missiles.
Designed to support joint early and forced entry expeditionary operations, the system has a strike distance of 300 kilometers (185 miles).
“Adversaries around the globe are becoming more sophisticated,” Lockheed said on its website.
“To protect soldiers, citizens, and infrastructure, our customers require the most advanced tactical missile capabilities. [HIMARS] is a strategic capability, improving homeland and important asset defense while reducing overall mission costs.”
Call to Expedite Arms Delivery
The delay in the production and delivery of self-propelled howitzers comes despite the call of US House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy for faster delivery of weapons and equipment to Taiwan.
He said that the nation has been waiting more than a year for military equipment it already purchased to defend against China.
The call to speed up the supply of weapons to Taiwan comes amid international concern that the next conflict might be centered in the Taiwan Strait.