Lee Shih-chiang, head of Taiwan’s defence ministry’s strategic planning department said that Taiwan wants to buy the Lockheed Martin AGM-158 JASSM to bolster its forces in the face of increasing pressure from Beijing.
A Taiwanese defence official said on Apr. 19, 2021 that his country would like to purchase long-range, air-launched cruise missiles from the US (in addition to its own long-range missiles Taiwan is developing) to bolster its forces in the face of increasing pressure from Beijing.
As reported by Reuters, Lee Shih-chiang, head of Taiwan’s defence ministry’s strategic planning department said that Taiwan wants to buy the Lockheed Martin AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM).
But the US has not yet said it can.
“We are still in the process of seeking it” from the United States, Lee said. “Communication channels are very smooth and normal.”
He did not elaborate.
JASSM is a long-range (almost 1,000 km (621 miles), conventional, air-to-ground, precision standoff missile for the US and allied forces. Designed to destroy high-value, well-defended, fixed and relocatable targets, JASSM’s significant standoff range keeps aircrews well out of danger from hostile air defense systems.
A 2,000-pound class weapon with a penetrator/blast fragmentation warhead, JASSM employs precision routing and guidance in adverse weather, day or night, using a state-of-the-art infrared seeker in addition to the anti-jam GPS to find a specific aimpoint on the target. Its stealthy airframe makes it extremely difficult to defeat.
Moreover the JASSM is fully integrated in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, which Taiwan operates.
China is trying to force the government in Taipei to accept Beijing’s claims of sovereignty by stepping up military activity near Taiwan.
The country is in the midst of a modernisation programme of its armed forces in order to offer a more effective deterrent, including the ability to hit back at bases far from China’s coast in the event of a conflict.
Although Taiwan’s armed forces have traditionally concentrated on defending the island from a Chinese attack, President Tsai Ing-wen has stressed the importance of developing an “asymmetrical” deterrent, using mobile equipment that is hard to find and destroy, and capable of hitting targets far away from Taiwan.
The US has been eager to create a military counterbalance to Chinese forces, building on an effort known within the Pentagon as “Fortress Taiwan”.
Beijing views Taiwan as sovereign Chinese territory, and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its control.
Photo credit: MSgt. Michael Jackson / U.S. Air Force