Drones, missile equipment included in $360M arms package to Taiwan

Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te on Tuesday thanked the United States for providing $360 million in arms and support equipment to elevate the island nation's military readiness and maintain peace as China continues to claim Taiwan as part of its sovereign nation. File Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA-EFE

June 19 (UPI) -- The United States will send Taiwan $360 million in arms and support equipment as the U.S. ally faces increasingly aggressive maneuvers by China.

The Biden administration approved the arms deal Tuesday, which includes armed drones, missile equipment and support materials.

The United States will send Taiwan 291 Altius-600M drone systems that contain warheads and another 720 long-range Switchblade loitering drones that are launched from portable tubes.

U.S. State Department officials said the arms deal is in line with the nation's strategic national interests and supports stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te expressed gratitude Tuesday for the arms during a news conference in Taipei.

He said the arms will help Taiwan improve its military readiness while maintaining peace along the Taiwan Strait that separates the island of Taiwan from the Chinese mainland to the west.

Lai and other Taiwanese officials are determined to maintain the island nation's security amid continued threats by China, which has claimed Taiwan as part of China's sovereign territory.

Recent military exercises by China, done in close proximity to Taiwan, have involved naval vessels and fighter aircraft that many view as an intimidation tactic.

Chinese officials in Beijing oppose Taiwan's alliance with the United States and say China has a sovereign right to return Taiwan to Chinese control.