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Taiwan signs procurement contract for MQ-9Bs

Taiwan's acquisition of four General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9B SeaGuardians will enhance the country's ability to conduct sustained reconnaissance and surveillance in the region. (General Atomics)

Taiwan has officially signed a procurement contract to purchase four General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9B SeaGuardian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The deal, which is worth TWD16.88 billion (USD546.3 million), was disclosed by Taiwanese legislator Wang Ting-Yu of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on his Facebook page on 31 August.

According to Ting-Yu, the formal procurement contract was signed on 24 August. The contract came into effect on the same day and will be active until the end of December 2029. The first UAV is scheduled to be delivered to the Republic of China Air Force's (RoCAF's) Hualien Air Force Base in 2025.

The deal was signed after the RoCAF Command Headquarters invited a military delegation from the United States to complete a formal procurement contract at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). The contract was signed “following lengthy conversations between the two countries”, Ting-Yu said.

The sale price of TWD16.88 billion includes the four MQ-9B medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAVs and supporting systems. However, the total budgeted amount for the purchase is TWD21.72 billion, according to documents submitted to Taiwan's Legislative Yuan on 31 August.

This is said to cover the costs of infrastructure to support the MQ-9Bs at Hualien, and training for the UAV operators. Local media reported that the budgetary documents include TWD1.93 million to train pilots and supporting personnel in the US in 2023.

The formal contract signing comes nearly two years after the US State Department approved the sale of the four weapons-ready UAVs to Taiwan on 30 November 2020.

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