U.S. plan to sell MQ-9 Reaper drones to Taiwan vex Beijing

The United States has agreed to sell four armed MQ-9 Reaper drones to Taiwan will complicate Beijing’s incessant prodding of the island’s defences.

Thanks to China’s sabre rattling over a possible amphibious assault on Taiwan with drills and combat preparation operations in waters nearby, and Xi jinping’s escalating language about possible forcible reunification, the diminutive democratic island really did not have much lobbying to do.

The drones deal comes on the heel of several other major arms packages to Taiwan announced in recent weeks worth US$4.2 billion.PHOTO: REUTERS

The $600 million sale aids Taiwan’s “continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability,” the State Department said.

Beijing vociferously opposes all arms sales to Taiwan. It will protest bitterly should the U.S. Congress approve the overall package. It clams Taiwan as a breakaway province, and 2020 has seen it ramp up tensions by sending fighters and reconnaissance aircraft to probe Taiwan’s air defences.

The SeaGuardian variant of the MQ-9 is optimised for maritime surveillance

The sale is the first after the U.S. government decided in July to diverge partly from the 1987 Missile Technology Control Regime, in which 35 countries agreed to restrict the sales of unmanned weapons delivery systems.

The decision was to permit the export of medium-speed drones like the Reaper that had been blocked by the agreement.

 China will take legitimate and necessary responses in light of the changing circumstances, Wang wenbin, spokesman of the ministry told a regular briefing in Beijing.

“The MQ-9 is not worth worrying about for China, because it does not possess stealth capabilities and flies at a low speed and low ceiling, which makes it an easy target for ground-to-air missiles,” said a military expert in the report.

Source: US Air Force The ‘Agile Reaper’ exercised saw three aircraft deployed