The United States, which has sent billions of dollars worth of weapons systems and ammunition to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began in February, has yet to deliver the defense industry orders it received years ago from Taiwan, an island nation under threat of annexation by the Chinese government.
According to US Congress data, the total price of weapons systems that Washington has officially agreed to sell to the Taipei government over the past 13 years has reached $30 billion, of which $17 billion has been awaiting delivery since 2017.
Doug Bush, the US Army’s chief acquisition officer, argued that the Ukraine war was not the sole cause of the delays, but acknowledged that it had affected priorities in the short term.
According to the Wall Street Journal, arms manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing said their supply chains and production were disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, noting that they were unable to keep up with demand even before the Ukraine war began.
US Department of Defense (Pentagon) officials, who requested anonymity, said that the weapons systems to be sent to Taiwan would be new products coming off the production line, but those sent to Ukraine had been removed from warehouses.
In response to questions, Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh would only say this much:
“We are working diligently to increase Ayvan’s capabilities as quickly as possible, while ensuring that Ukraine can defend itself against Russian aggression.
The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which has been operating in the US Congress for nearly 20 years, summarized the problem this month:
The diversion of existing stockpiles of arms and ammunition to Ukraine and pandemic-induced supply chain issues have significantly increased the delay in the delivery of weapons approved for sale to Taiwan, undermining the island nation’s readiness.
Michael McCaul, a member of the Armed Services Committee of the US House of Representatives and a Republican Party member of Congress from Texas, criticized the fact that some of the weapons systems for which he signed the resolution approving the sale three years ago have yet to arrive in Taiwan:
As we saw in Ukraine, it would be much better to deliver weapons before the invasion rather than after.
Taiwan’s Deputy Defense Minister, General Veng Shin-lung, criticized the United States in a softer tone last month:
Taiwan demands that the weapons sold by the US be delivered on schedule.
Taiwan’s $8 billion order for 66 F-16 fighter jets is scheduled to arrive around 2025.
The US had introduced the so-called “hedgehog strategy” military doctrine to support Taiwan against the massive Chinese army.
The rift between the governments in Beijing and Taipei, both claiming to represent the Chinese, dates back to 1949, when the People’s Republic of China was founded.