July 9 (UPI) -- The State Department has approved two contracts worth $2.2 billion for possible foreign military sales to Taiwan of Abrams tanks and Stinger missiles.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency on Monday notified Congress it approved a $2 billion deal for 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks and a $223.6 million deal for Man-Portable Air-Defense Stinger missiles, as well as related equipment and support, as negotiated by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office.
The sales serve U.S. national, economic, and security interests, DSCA said, by supporting Taiwan's "continuing efforts to modernize its armed forces and to maintain a credible defensive capability."
DSCA said the sales will improve the security and assist in "maintaining political stability, military balance and economic progress in the region."
General Dynamics Land Systems will be the primary contractor for the 108 M1A2T Abrams tanks, as well as 216 M240 Machine Guns, 14 M88A2 HERCULES vehicles, 16 M1070A1 heavy equipment transporters and ammunition.
As of 2015, Taiwan has 376 M60A3 Patton tanks, which were introduced by Chrysler's Detroit Arsenal in 1959, and 450 Brave Tiger tanks, developed by General Dynamics and the Republic of China Army, which have been in service since 1990, according to GlobalSecurity.org.
Production of the new tanks will be at Anniston Army Depot, Anniston, Ala., and the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio. The M88A2 recovery vehicle prime contractor will be BAE Systems in York, Pa., and the M1070Al Heavy Equipment Transporter prime contractor will be Oshkosh in Wisconsin.
Raytheon Missile Systems is the primary contractor for the 250 Block I-92F MANPAD Stinger missiles and four Block I-92F MANPAD Stinger Fly-to-Buy missiles, as well as a trainers, parts and other support.
Both deals include U.S. government and contractor representatives on the ground in Taiwan, Twelve representatives will be in Taiwan for six weeks to support the Stinger, while 30 government representatives and 15 contractors will be there for up to six years to manage fielding and training on the Abrams tanks.
Mainland China on Tuesday described the sales to Taiwan as a "reckless" policy.
"The United States has recklessly interfered in Chinese domestic affairs," Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing. "It has undermined China's sovereignty and security interests."
Beijing recognizes Taiwan as a breakaway province. In 1949, Chinese nationalist leaders fled to Taiwan when Mao Zedong came to power.
"Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory," the foreign ministry spokesman said. "Do not underestimate the Chinese government and the people's will to defend national sovereignty and territory."
Taiwan has been working to modernize and upgrade its defense capabilities, with several deals receiving approval in the last few months.
Raytheon in May was awarded a $355.4 million contract to refurbish AGM-88B missiles for Qatar, Bahrain and Taiwan, though the breakdown of what each country received was not announced. The State Department in April also approved a $500 million possible contract renewal for training of Taiwanese F-16 pilots and maintenance support at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense in February applied to buy F16-V fighter jets, known as Vipers. The State Department has not yet approved the deal.