The United States has approved the supply of 155mm 40 M109A6 Paladin self-propelled artillery systems and related equipment to Taiwan.

Following F-16 fighters, heavy torpedoes, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, TOW anti-tank missiles, Stinger man-portable air-defense systems, M109A6 self-propelled howitzers will be the next weapons the US will sell to Taiwan. According to information released by the US Department of Defense on August 4, 2021, the United States has approved the supply of 155mm M109A6 Paladin self-propelled artillery systems and related equipment to Taiwan under an agreement estimated at about 750 million USD. Accordingly, Taiwan plans to buy 40 M109A6s. Deliveries will be completed between 2023 and 2025.

The addition of the M109A6 self-propelled howitzers will contribute to the modernization of Taiwan’s self-propelled howitzer fleet, significantly enhancing the island’s ability to respond to current and future threats, and while further enhancing interoperability with the United States and other allies. The M109A6 is an improved version of the M109A1, a 155mm self-propelled howitzer based on tracked armored chassis.  It has a crew of four: the commander, the driver, the gunner, and the ammunition loader.

M109A6 Paladin
M109A6 Paladin

The M109 family was first introduced in the early 1960s to replace the M44. It has been upgraded a number of times, most recently to the M109A7. The M109 family is the most common Western indirect-fire support weapon of maneuver brigades of armored and mechanized infantry divisions. After Operation Desert Storm in 1991, the M109A6 “Paladin” entered service in 1992 as a fully improved version of the M109 series.

Compared to its predecessors, the A6 has improved the protection of armor, as well as increased the available ammunition reserve. Ammunition storage is increased from 36 to 39 155 mm rounds. An automatic fire control system has been added to aid aiming and improve accuracy. NBC protection and crew comfort are also enhanced.

A redesigned internal arrangement for safer ammunition and equipment storage, engine and suspension upgrades, and product improvement of the M284 Cannon and M182A1 Mount. The greatest difference is the integration of an inertial navigation system, sensors detecting the weapons’ lay, automation, and an encrypted digital communication system, which utilizes computer controlled frequency hopping to avoid enemy electronic warfare and allow the howitzer to send grid location and altitude to the battery Fire Direction Center (FDC) .

The M109 proved an export success on the global stage, one of the most successful armored vehicles of the Cold War and one of the best American self-propelled howitzer systems since the end of World War 2. Like most nations, the United States has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is required by law to provide the Chinese-claimed island with the means to defend itself and is its most important international backer, to Beijing’s anger.

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