In late June, China test-fired Russian-made AA-12 Adder missiles, also known as the R-77, for the first time, according to a July 1 Washington Times article. Acquisition and deployment of these advanced dog-fighting missiles would give Chinese fighter aircraft the capability of attacking targets from a distance of at least 50 kilometers.
The United States sold Taiwan a comparable U.S. missile, the AIM-120C Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), in September 2000 but conditioned its delivery to Taiwan on another country in the region getting a similar missile first. A State Department spokesperson interviewed August 26 would not say whether the U.S. government would now be delivering the 200 AMRAAMs to Taiwan, commenting only that the United States intends to fulfill the terms of its contract. A Pentagon spokesperson gave a similar line, but also pointed out that the AMRAAMs for Taiwan have not been built yet.
According to a July 12 Pentagon report, a potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait is the “primary driver” behind China’s military modernization and arms acquisitions. The report declared that Chinese offensive capabilities are improving annually, increasing Beijing’s “number of credible options to intimidate or actually attack Taiwan.”
China has also recently negotiated with Russia, its main arms supplier, to buy eight diesel-electric Kilo-class attack submarines, adding to the four it has already acquired. This recent deal mirrors a U.S. offer in April 2001 to provide Taiwan with eight diesel-powered submarines, although that deal is currently stalled. Washington and Taipei have yet to determine whether Taiwan can actually afford the submarines, and they also need to find a manufacturer because the United States builds only nuclear-powered submarines.