Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense Signs $1.75 Billion in Guided Missile Contracts With US

Janes reported Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of China (Taiwan) announced on 17 June that it has signed two contracts worth a combined USD1.75 billion with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). Although the ministry didn’t specify the systems, Janes revealed that the two contracts are for Lockheed Martin M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers and Boeing Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems (HCDSs).

Taiwan is facing increased pressure from China, particularly in the last few months. The United States has official relations with Beijing, but not Taiwan, which is claimed by Beijing as Chinese territory. However, Washington is bound by law to help Taiwan defend itself and is its main arms supplier. Among the assurances made in 1982 are statements that the United States has not set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan, nor agreed to prior consultation with Beijing on such sales, or to revise the Taiwan Relations Act that underpins US policy towards the island.


On October 21, 2020, the U.S. approved the sale of HIMARS M142 launchers, 64 army tactical missile systems (ATACMS), M57 Unitary missiles, 7 Humvees, 11 M240B machine guns, 17 international field artillery tactical data systems, and other related equipment. The M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) is a light multiple rocket launcher developed in the late 1990s for the United States Army, mounted on a standard Army M1140 truck frame. The HIMARS M142 launchers is C-130 transportable.

M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS)
M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS)

The HIMARS is a highly mobile artillery rocket system that can fire six rockets or one ATACMS missile. The HIMARS carries six rockets or one MGM-140 ATACMS missile on the U.S. Army’s new Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) five-ton truck, and can launch the entire Multiple Launch Rocket System Family of Munitions (MFOM). HIMARS ammunition is interchangeable with the MLRS M270A1, however it is only able to carry one pod rather than the standard two for the M270 and A1 variants. The rocket launching system is produced by Lockheed Martin Missiles & Fire Control.

On October 26, 2020, the U.S. approved the sale of Taiwan 100 Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems (HCDS), 400 RGM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Surface Launched Missiles, four RTM-84L-4 Harpoon Block II Exercise Missiles, 100 HCDS launcher transporter units, 25 radar trucks, and additional logistical and other related equipment. With a range of 125 kilometers, the missiles can be used to strike Chinese warships at sea as well as the nearby ports they disembark from. The HCDS allows Taiwan to employ a highly reliable to counter or deter maritime aggressions and amphibious assaults.

The Harpoon is an all-weather, over-the-horizon, anti-ship missile, developed and manufactured by McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing Defense, Space & Security). The regular Harpoon uses active radar homing and flies just above the water to evade defenses. The missile can be launched from: fixed-wing aircraft (the AGM-84), surface ships (the RGM-84), submarines (the UGM-84) amd coastal defense batteries. With Harpoon missiles already in the arsenal of Taiwan’s warships and fighter jets, this shore-based version will add another layer to the country’s defenses.

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