The US is considering weapons co-production with Taiwan to expedite arms delivery to the territory amid a rising threat of invasion by China, Nikkei Asia revealed, citing sources.
Initial discussions have begun, with the likely transfer of weapons technology to Taiwan or to produce the platforms in the US using Taiwan-made parts, the outlet added.
The discussions are expected to continue through 2023.
Marked Change for US
The development signifies a marked departure from the stance of previous US administrations, which avoided such a step fearing the leakage of classified technology.
US-Taiwan defense co-production is currently limited to the development of the Taiwanese Hsiung Feng II and III missiles, produced with some US technology.
The development comes on the heels of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement Monday that Beijing has accelerated its timeline for an invasion of Taiwan under President Xi Jinping, who is expected to be re-elected for a third term this week.
“A fundamental decision [has been made] that the status quo was no longer acceptable, and that Beijing was determined to pursue reunification on a much faster timeline,” Blinken said.
US Weapons Transfer Delays
The fledgling defense co-production plan is aimed at shortening the US weapons transfer timeline, which usually takes up to 10 years, Nikkei Asia wrote, adding that China could be in a position to capture Taiwan by 2027.
Taiwan expects to start receiving Stinger ground-to-air missiles from the US beginning in 2026. The delivery of HIMARS and Harpoon anti-ship missiles is expected to be completed by 2027 and 2028, respectively.
Earlier this year, Taiwan was forced to switch to an alternate weapons platform after the expected delivery of 40 M109A6 medium self-propelled howitzers from the US was postponed for three years to 2026.
Moreover, the Russia-Ukraine war provisions have also depleted the US capacity to fulfill world weapons requirements. The administration is therefore calling on partner nations to provide security assistance to Taiwan.
Global Defense Assistance to Taiwan Sought
Citing US Council on Foreign Relations research fellow David Sacks, Nikkei Asia wrote that the defense co-production plan would also urge Taiwan to ramp up its defense expenditure.
“There is resistance in Taiwan to significantly raising defense spending because there is a sense that this money is leaving the [Taiwanese] economy,” Sacks said.
“Ensuring that at least a portion of this money stays in Taiwan and goes to local suppliers can hopefully negate some of this and make it politically easier to raise defense spending.”