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US approves loitering munition sale to Taiwan

The AeroVironment Switchblade 300 loitering munition weighs 2.5 kg and is portable enough to be carried in a backpack. According to the company, the munition can be deployed by a single operator in under two minutes. (Janes)

The US Department of State has approved a possible sale of loitering munitions to Taiwan to improve the country's asymmetric warfare capabilities.

In separate announcements on 18 June, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said that up to 291 Anduril Altius 600M-V unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) loitering munitions and 720 AeroVironment Switchblade 300 tube-launched, non-recoverable attack loitering munitions could be sold to Taiwan. The potential sale has a combined value of USD360.2 million.

The approval of the possible sale follows a Taiwanese request for the weapons, via the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO). Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) described the loitering munitions as “a new tactical option that can strengthen deterrence in combination with other precision missile systems”, in a statement on 19 June.

The US weapons sale will help Taiwan “improve its asymmetric combat capabilities” and allow both countries to “consolidate their security partnership”, the MND said.

According to the DSCA, the Switchblade 300s could be sold to Taiwan as all-up rounds (AURs, that is, assembled weapons), including 35 of which will be sold as “fly-to-buy AURs”. The proposed sale, which has a value of USD60.2 million, also includes 101 SB300 fire-control systems (FCS), spares packs, training, and sustainment and logistics support.

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