Thu, May 13, 2010 - Page 1 News List

New business council report recommends F-16 sale

BALANCE OF POWER Without an order by next year, the US will stop producing F-16s, and in 2014 Taiwan will retire its F-5s, leaving it in desperate need of new jet fighters

By William Lowther  /  STAFF REPORTER , WASHINGTON

“The decision on the F-16s will come to a head sooner rather than later, given that we are moving away from producing F-16s,” Hammond-Chambers said. “This opportunity for us to provide Taiwan with F-16s to upgrade its air force will be with us for the next 12 months.”

“If we don’t sell F-16s to Taiwan real soon we will be condemning Taiwan’s air defense to a decisive second place,” Fisher said. “The F-16C/D is the minimum necessary to maintain a semblance of a balance.”

“Providing Taiwan with its minimum defensive capability is going to be very valuable over the next few years when China and Taiwan finally begin the long-stalled political dialogue,” Fu said. “Taiwan needs to have all the chips it can afford on the table. If the US is unwilling to provide F-16s, it is not only setting back Taiwan’s defense, it could make Taiwan unable to negotiate from a position of confidence and strength. And that could have real consequences, not only for Taiwan, but for US national security interests in the region.”

But Fisher offered what he called “a note of hope.”

He recalled giving a “gloomy briefing” on Taiwan’s military future to about 1,000 midshipmen at the US Naval Academy.

At the end, a first-year student from Taiwan raised his hand and said: “I can assure you, Mr Fisher, we will defend our country.”

Immediately, Fisher said, the audience jumped to their feet and cheered.

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