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Taiwan in line for new US radars

BBC | April 1st 2004

The Pentagon has announced a possible new sale of advanced long-range radar equipment to Taiwan.

The deal - that could be worth up to $1.8 billion - is likely to provoke anger in China.

After notifying the US Congress, Pentagon officials played down the move, saying the sale was agreed in principle in 1999.

The radars will, the Pentagon suggests, help boost Taiwan's ability to detect ballistic and cruise missiles.

The Pentagon describes the equipment as ultra high frequency long-range early warning radars.

They won't, it insists, affect the basic military balance in the region.

Sensitive subject

That may not be how Beijing sees it.

US defence sales to Taiwan are always a sensitive subject. China formally protested over the last big US arms package of destroyers, submarines and aircraft three years ago.

Significantly, that didn't include the most advanced design of US destroyers, equipped with powerful radars and missiles that might eventually have formed part of an anti-missile defence system.

However, a number of US defence experts familiar with the negotiations over the latest radars say they are chiefly passive warning systems, not active defences.

The experts also argue that the potential threats to Taiwan from Chinese missiles and air forces have increased significantly in recent years.

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