Tue, Nov 07, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Part of arms procurement deal proceeds

By Mac William Bishop and Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The legislature yesterday approved funding for items included in a controversial US arms procurement deal when reviewing the confidential portion of the military's annual budget, sources said.

The approval of the funding, in a joint meeting of the National Defense and Budgets and Final Accounts committees, substantially increases the likelihood that at least a portion of a long-stalled arms deal will move forward this year, mollifying vocal US criticism of Taiwan's defense establishment.

The committee allowed a total of NT$9.8 billion (US$297.4 million) in funds for three major weapons systems to proceed to what could be the final reading of the Cabinet's proposed budget for next year, a legislative aide told the Taipei Times on condition of anonymity.

The confidential budget included NT$6.1 billion toward the purchase of 12 P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft, all of which was approved by the committee, the aide said.

Although the Ministry of National Defense (MND) requested NT$4.5 billion for a study into the feasibility of submarines -- the precursor toward actually designing and building the vessels -- lawmakers slashed the request to NT$200 million, the source said.

Meanwhile, the legislative aide said that NT$3.5 billion in funds to upgrade Taiwan's existing Patriot Advanced Capability-2 (PAC-2) air defense batteries were also approved.

However, the defence committee slashed funds allocated for the purchase of PAC-3 anti-missile batteries, which the opposition parties contend is an "illegal" request because of a failed 2004 referendum related to missile defense.

The committee also "froze" NT$13 billion in funds the military requested for the purchase of 66 F-16C/D fighters. Lawmakers said they would only approve the funding if the MND could submit documentation that the US had formally approved the request within five months, the aide said.

This story has been viewed 3360 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top