US Mulls Teaming Up With Taiwan To Produce Weapons: REPORT

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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The White House is in talks with Taiwanese leaders to jointly produce U.S.-designed weapons to deter and defend against a potential Chinese invasion, Japanese outlet Nikkei reported Wednesday.

While discussions remain in their early stages, officials will likely reach a deal by 2023 that involves technology transfers from U.S. contractors to Taiwanese manufacturers or U.S.-based assembly of weapons using Taiwan-made parts, Nikkei reported, citing three officials familiar with the discussions. The unusual move comes amid high-level warnings that China plans to imminently invade Taiwan while the U.S. and allies run low on weapons and ammunition.

Taiwan has never co-produced munitions or weapons platforms with the U.S., a representative from the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council told Nikkei. Only the Hsiung Feng II and III missiles utilize U.S. technology in their production. (RELATED: Pentagon To Speed Up Weapons Sales To Allies As US Struggles To Maintain Its Own Stocks)

Prior U.S. administrations have resisted cooperation with Taiwan on defense production despite the U.S. standing pledge to provide the autonomously-governed island everything it needs to defend itself against China, Nikkei reported. One reason is fear that transfer of sensitive technology intended to give the U.S. military a competitive advantage over its rivals could leak to adversaries.

“This is going to take some time to really shake out,” a source told Nikkei.

However, the co-production plan could expedite arms transfers to Taiwan in the longer term after the Senate appeared to have struck out a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that would require U.S. defense contractors to prioritize Taiwanese orders, Defense News reported Monday.

Typically, arms sales can take up to a decade between the initial request and final delivery, according to Nikkei.

The war in Ukraine has severely depleted U.S. stocks of air defense systems and accompanying ammunition that Taiwan would use to repel a Chinese aerial attack. Stinger missiles and HIMARS launchers are also in limited supply due to supply chain knots and materials shortages, and defense contractors have warned they may not be able to surge production to meet needs for Ukraine and Taiwan, Defense News reported.

However, Lockheed Martin pledged Tuesday to boost HIMARS production, Politico reported.

The U.S. has “pretty much run out of 155 millimeter Howitzers and 155 millimeter ammunition,” Mark Cancian, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, previously told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Taiwan’s defense ministry planned to receive a shipment of stingers by March 2026, HIMARS in 2027 and Harpoon anti-ship missile systems in 2028, while it may cancel an order for howitzers altogether, Nikkei reported.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping is pushing the Chinese military to reach a state of readiness to invade Taiwan by 2027, despite alleging he will prioritize a “peaceful reunification.”

At least 10 arms sales to Taiwan worth $13 billion remain backlogged since 2019, Nikkei reported, citing internal U.S. documents.

The National Security Council and office of the Taiwanese president did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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