The US government has cleared the possible sale of over 1,000 loitering munitions to Taiwan that could be employed in the event of an attempted Chinese invasion.

In two separate notifications, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) lists the possible sale of 291 Anduril Altius 600M-V and 720 AeroVironment Switchblade 300 loitering munitions, as well as training, logistics, spares, and other support.

Switchblade 300

Source: AeroVironment

Loitering munitions such as the Switchblade 300 would complicate life for the Chinese military in the even of a Taiwan invasion

The Altius 600M-V deal is valued at $300 million, and the potential Switchblade 300 sale at $60.2 million.

“In the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s frequent military operations around Taiwan, the US side in this case agreed to sell arms items that will have reconnaissance and immediate strike capabilities, and can respond quickly to enemy threats,” says Taiwan’s defence ministry.

It notes that the administrative review time required to approve the two potential sales was “significantly shortened”.

According to Anduril, the 12kg (27lb) Altius 600 has an endurance of up to 4h and can carry a range of payloads.

[“The Altius 600M] is designed to accommodate multiple seeker and warhead options while doubling the loitering time and range of current market offerings,” says Anduril.

The Switchblade 300 is smaller, weighing 1.7kg. It has an endurance of over 20min.

“This sale of AeroVironment’s Switchblade 300 and Anduril’s Altius 600 adds substantially to Taiwan’s inventory of mobile smart munitions, which can be used during on-island fighting all the way through to attacking [People’s Liberation Army] assets off Taiwan’s coastline,” says Rupert Hammond-Chambers of the US Taiwan Business Council.

“As these munitions are deployed and local personnel trained to handle them, we should expect Taiwan to grow their inventory of both munitions. It is important to field these capabilities while also ensuring that Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense has deep magazines to handle a potentially sustained conflict.”

He adds that Taiwan is also producing smart munitions locally.

The sale comes as China increases its military incursions against Taiwan, routinely sending aircraft and ships to probe Taiwan’s defensive capabilities.