The U.S. this week approved the sale of four Taiwan MQ-9 drones 17.1 billion yuan only installed reconnaissance equipment no armed

The U.S. military sale of four advanced drones to Taiwan has been approved by Congress and is in the final stages of approval.

The U.S. arms sale of four cutting-edge drones to Taiwan has passed a key threshold in Congress and is in the final stages of approval, sources told Reuters on February 2. The arms sale may make the U.S. relationship with China more strained.

Reuters was the first to reveal last month that the Trump administration intends to sell seven advanced weapons to Taiwan, including the MQ-9 drone, on July 12 and 13.

The MQ-9 is a large unmanned aerial vehicle developed by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. for the U.S. Air Force. Reuters 2 pointed out that this is the first MQ-9 drone military sale to notify Congress of $600 million (about 17.144 billion Taiwan dollars) since the Trump administration took advantage of the reinterpretation of the Missile Technology Control Agreement (MTCR) to liberalize the export policy of sophisticated and leak-proof drone technology.

A source said the State Department may “formally notify” Congress of the deal later this week (within this week), and in principle Congress can object within 30 days, but is unlikely to do so given the broad support from both Republican and Democratic parties for strengthening Taiwan’s defenses to counter China’s military threat.

The sources added that while the MQ-9 drones could be armed, the four drones sold to Taiwan will (only) be equipped with reconnaissance systems and will be sold along with the associated ground stations and surrogate training.

The four MQ-9s sold to Taiwan are reportedly MQ-9 SeaGuardian drones. They are a derivative of the MQ-9 Reaper drones, which have added an automatic identification system and Multimode 360 sea search radar to the original.

Reuters notes that the Trump administration has increased pressure on China and is more worried about China’s intentions towards Taiwan. In addition to the arms sale, the Trump administration is also promoting the sale of four other advanced arms to Taiwan, the amount of about $5 billion (about 142.895 billion Taiwan dollars). The State Department notified Congress on October 21 that it would sell Lockheed Martin’s High Mobility Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (HIMARS), Boeing’s range-extended land attack missile (SLAM-ER), and the MS-110, an external sensor pod mounted on an F-16V fighter jet, to Taiwan. Photo-detection pods” can send images and data from the fighter jet back to the ground station instantly.

On October 26, the State Department approved another military sale of 100 shore-based Harpoon missile systems (Coastal Defense Systems, manufactured by Boeing), including 100 Harpoon Sea Defense System launcher transporters and 400 RGM-84L-4 Harpoon II ground-launched missiles.

The report concludes that Beijing has vowed to make Taiwan a “capricious and uncontrolled” province under Communist Party control, ruling by force if necessary. But Washington, D.C., considers Taiwan to be an important democratic outpost, and the law (the Taiwan Relations Act) requires the United States Government to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself.