MOFA, MND 'appreciate' arms sale despite lack of new fighters
By Joseph Yeh,The China Post with CNAThe Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday jointly confirmed that the United States government has rejected Taiwan's proposal to buy 66 new and more advanced F-16C/Ds.
September 22, 2011, 12:18 am TWN
In a late evening impromptu press conference, Foreign Minister Timothy Yang said that the U.S. has, however, approved a US$5.85 billion retrofit package to upgrade the country's total number of 145 F-16A/B jets.
The deal also includes training by U.S. military for Taiwan's F-16 pilots as well as offering spare parts for the local Air Force's aging C-130 transport planes, according to the MOFA.
“The government of the Republic of China commends and appreciates the robust move taken by the Obama administration,” said Yang.
“The arms sale again shows the American government's commitment to help Taiwan boost its self defense capability,” said Yang, calling it a concrete move which demonstrates strong bilateral ties.
He also said the U.S. approval of a package to upgrade Taiwan's existing F-16A/B fleet did not mean there was no longer any opportunity to sell Taiwan the more advanced F-16C/D fighters in the future.
The MND also held a press conference simultaneously last night to confirm the U.S. decision.
Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu expressed gratitude to Washington over the decision during the MND press conference.
The latest package, once approved by the Congress, will largely boost Taiwan's defense capability, Kao said.
Taiwan will also continue to push for the sale of more advanced U.S.-made F-16C/Ds, as well as diesel-electric submarines, he added.
The Obama administration officially notified Congress of the decision on Sept. 21 (U.S time).
U.S. Congress has a 30-day period to dissent and if no opposition is raised, it means the arms sale is officially sealed.
The U.S. previously gave permission to two major arms sales in 2008 and 2010 respectively, each totaling up to US$6.4 billion.
According to the Central New Agency report, Taiwan's Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) (漢翔航空工業) could be chosen as the company responsible for upgrading the F-16A/B fighters.
Meanwhile, a U.S. Defense Department study has concluded that Taiwan should buy short-takeoff and vertical-landing jets such as the British-designed AV-8B Harrier jump jet or the new F-35B vertical-takeoff jet, according to the Washington Times reported earlier this week.
The Pentagon will deliver the congressionally mandated study on Taiwan's air power to Capitol Hill later this week, the newspaper said.
Citing U.S. officials familiar with military aircraft, the report said the Pentagon conclusion was based on anticipated mainland Chinese missile strikes against Taiwan's airfields with cratering munitions that would thwart takeoffs by F-16s and other fighters.
This file photo provided by U.S. aircraft maker Lockheed Martin shows the unique lift fan of the short take-off/vertical-landing (STOVL) variant of the Lockheed Martin F-35 ...