Procurement: August 24, 2002


Taiwan is mounting an increasing campaign to obtain the 200 AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles that the US agreed to sell it in September 2000. Under the terms of the sale, the missiles would be stored by the US (probably on Guam) until a China-Taiwan war began or until China demonstrated a Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile capability. Taiwan, noting that China has test-fired a Russian R77 (AA-12 Adder), insists that these conditions have been met; the US says it is unsure if the Chinese test represents a capability or only the first test in a long road to widespread deployment of the AA-12. The US policy is hard to fathom. While Beyond Visual Range missiles are a marked increase in technology over shorter-ranged air-to-air missiles, Taiwan already has the French MICA and the locally-built Sky Sword II (which are BVR missiles but not nearly as good as AMRAAM or R77). China can be expected to express furious indignity if the missiles are delivered, and this could provoke more tension between Moscow and Beijing.--Stephen V Cole 


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