The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) responsible for the export of United States military equipment agreed to the purchase of four Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones. 

That new deal comes shortly after approving the sale of weapons including anti-ship cruise missiles for a total of $4.6 billion. The contract would also include two static and two mobile ground control stations, as well as an array of spare parts, for a total of $600 million. “The proposed sale will help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance, economic and progress in the region,” explained the DSCA in a statement.

Manufactured by General Atomics, the brand-new MQ-9B SeaGuardian can be equipped with several radar systems and optronics that gives it the ability to identify and track radar emissions from land sites and ships. It can also drop sonobuoys for anti-submarine warfare and acoustic research.

“This is the tenth arms sale to Taiwan under President Trump and the third time in two weeks that the US government has provided our country with significant defensive weapons that will allow Taiwan to strengthen its capabilities and confidence in the defense of peace in the Taiwan Strait,” the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense commented following the announcement of the DSCA. In August 2020, Taiwan placed an order of 66 new F-16 fighter jets for a total of $62 billion.

The island country is arming up as it faces frequent Chinese incursions past the strategic central line of the Taiwan Strait. China does not recognize the sovereignty of Taiwan and thus considers the Strait as part of its territorial waters.

The Ministry of National Defense of Taiwan reported that no less than eighteen Chinese military aircraft crossed the midline of the Taiwan Strait on September 18, 2020. As a response, fighter jets were scrambled for an interception.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense claims Chinese bombers and fighters breached its airspace on September 19, 2020, entering the country’s territory in a pincer movement and prompting Taiwan to scramble its own jets.