Taiwan considers HIMARS rockets to defend against China

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Taiwan’s military plans to field more than two dozen batteries of American-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers to “kill, destroy and cripple” invading enemy forces, according to a new budget submitted to parliament on Wednesday. the island.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s cabinet recently proposed a double-digit increase in defense spending for next year amid renewed tensions with China, boosting the military budget by nearly 14% to 19 .41 billion. The military was requesting $1.07 billion, roughly double its 2022 plan, for the purchase of long-range sniper capabilities in the United States, lawmakers have learned.

The island’s ground forces will order 29 M142 high-mobility artillery rocket systems, 18 more than originally planned. The army is also ordering 84 MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missiles (instead of 64) and 864 “precision rockets” – both for use with truck-mounted HIMARS launchers.

Once the purchase request is made, Taiwan expects to receive its first batch of HIMARS systems – 11 – in 2024, according to the proposal. The army aims to complete the full package by 2027.

Long-range precision strike capabilities would help offset logistical challenges when resupplying and reinforcing frontline troops on outlying islands – just miles from the Chinese coast – or when providing support in conflict zones in Taiwan proper, lawmakers who will consider the budget have said.

“Therefore, the best solution is to provide immediate fire support between areas to kill, destroy and cripple the enemy landing force with long-range, accurate, highly mobile and large-area firepower,” a- he declared.

A US M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) fires salvos during the ‘African Lion’ military exercise in the Grier Labouihi region of Morocco on June 21, 2022. The Taiwanese military has submitted a request for budget to order 29 HIMARS launchers on August 31.
FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images

Taiwan’s military turned to HIMARS after scrapping a previous plan to purchase 40 M109A6 “Paladin” self-propelled howitzers, a $750 million deal approved by the Biden administration a year ago.

In May, the United States notified Taiwan of a likely delay in fulfilling the order due to an “overloaded” production line. This meant the island would not have taken delivery of the systems until at least 2026. Washington has suggested Guided Multiple Rocket Launch Systems (GMLRS), like HIMARS, as an alternative.

Plans to field more HIMARS would be in line with Washington’s desire for Taipei to invest more in “asymmetric” capabilities to deter and defend against China, which has not ruled out the use of force to one day seize the island which Beijing says is part of its territory.

Outnumbered and outnumbered, Taiwan should deploy cheaper, highly mobile and precise asymmetric weapons, defense planners say, as Ukraine has done against invading Russian forces since February.

Since June, the United States has provided Kyiv with 16 HIMARS launchers, according to the Pentagon, and continues to train groups of Ukrainian troops to use them. The Ukrainian Armed Forces used the systems to good effect, hitting Russian command posts and ammunition storage facilities.

While Ukraine-deployed HIMARS have a reduced range of 50 miles, with Kyiv pledging not to fire into Russian territory so as not to further escalate the conflict, Taiwanese launchers will be able to fire at the intended effective range of about 190 miles – more than enough to cover the Taiwan Strait, which is between 80 and 110 miles wide.

The Biden administration has notified Congress of five arms packages for Taiwan, including four in 2022.

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