Sun, Apr 29, 2012 - Page 1 News List

White House ‘considering’ F-16 jet sale

FIGHTER GAP:The announcement suggests a dramatic turnaround that might be motivated by Obama taking a tougher line on China ahead of the presidential election

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in Washington

“The Assistant Secretary [Lippert] in consultation with the inter-agency and the Congress, will play a lead role as the administration decides on a near-term course of action on how to address Taiwan’s fighter gap, including through the sale to Taiwan of an undetermined number of new US-made fighter aircraft,” the letter ends.

“I commend the administration for recognizing that our friend and ally Taiwan’s air force is woefully undersized and outgunned by Communist China, and their inability to adequately defend themselves poses a threat not just to their own security but to that of the United States,” Cornyn said.

The F-16s are manufactured in Cornyn’s home state of Texas and assembled by Lockheed Martin of Fort Worth. Foreign policy specialist Josh Roginwriting said on Foreign Policy magazine’s Web site that the White House position on the F-16C/Ds could “spark a new crisis” with China.

“The White House does not explicitly promise to sell Taiwan new F-16 fighter jets, as Cornyn wants, promising only to give the matter ‘serious consideration,’” he said.

“The decision to consider the move sets up a potential political clash with China, which has cut military contacts with the US in the past over American arms sales to Taiwan,” Bloomberg news said.

In a printed statement, Hammond-Chambers said that the language in the new White House letter was significantly different from a Feb. 15 letter in which the Pentagon said: “We believe the F-16A/B upgrade effectively meets Taiwan’s current needs.”

Hammond-Chambers urged the administration to quickly announce the sale of F-16C/Ds to Taiwan and added: “At a time when America needs every job it can generate, such a sale would mean more than US$17 billion to the US economy and it would be protecting more than 87,000 jobs. It would also serve to protect peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, which is a core strategic interest of the United States.”

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