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Taiwan Mulls NASAMS Air Defense System Acquisition From US

The Taiwanese government has confirmed plans to procure National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) from the US amid increasing tensions with China.

Speaking on the sidelines of a recent legislative session, the island’s defense minister said media reports about the potential acquisition were correct but that the Taiwanese military has yet to receive an official notification from Washington about whether it would allow the purchase.

If approved, the NASAMS are expected to bolster the self-ruled nation’s air defense capabilities, especially amid reports of a looming Chinese invasion.

“This work must be done in accordance with the enemy situation,” the minister said, as quoted by Reuters. “We have seen from the Russia-Ukraine war that these weapons definitely have good performance.”

Apparent Success in Ukraine

Taiwan’s decision to consider buying the NASAMS was fueled by the system’s apparent success in Ukraine.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced last year that the air defense system recorded a 100-percent success rate in intercepting Russian missiles.

Built by Raytheon and Kongsberg, the NASAMS is a powerful short- to medium-range, ground-based defense system that can protect against enemy drones, missiles, helicopters, and aircraft.

It has an effective range of up to 50 kilometers (31 miles).

The system works with US-built MPQ-64 Sentinel air defense radar and is compatible with AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles, AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder missiles, and the German-made IRIS-T short-range anti-aircraft missiles.

In Taiwan, the NASAMS could be used in combination with two air defense systems developed by the National Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology.

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