The U.S. State Department will sell four maritime aerial drones to Taiwan.
The state department said Congressional approval of the sale of four General Atomics MQ-9B SeaGuardian unmanned aerial vehicles for $600 million will be the final stage in Taiwan's acquisition of long range reconnaissance and attack drones.
Included in the sale will be the ground stations to control the UAVs as well as operator training. SeaGuardians are mostly outfitted with maritime reconnaissance equipment such surface search radars but can be configured to carry air-to-surface missiles and smart bombs.
Formal notification of the deal gives Congress 30 days to object. Defense analysts said Congress won't stand in the way of the deal owing to strong bipartisan support for the defense of Taiwan.
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. said SeaGuardian was capable of anti-surface and anti-submarine strikes. The 40-meter-long drone with an altitude of 40,000 feet can also carry out civilian tasks like search and rescue and law enforcement duties.
SeaGuardian has a range of more than 11,000 kilometers and an endurance of more than 40 hours.
The deal will antagonize China which has consistently warned the Trump administration against selling advanced weapons systems to Taiwan.
The sale of the SeaGuardians, which were also sold to Japan this year, followed Washington's approval of the sale of four other advanced weapons systems for $5 billion to Taiwan in mid-October.
The island nation insists it needs the American weapons to deter an expected China invasion. China considers Taiwan part of the mainland and has never ruled out military force.
The SeaGuardian deal will be the first such sale since the Trump administration eased its rules on the export of sophisticated and proprietary drone technology to allied nations.