As expected, an amendment to the US 2013 National Defense Authorization Act ordering the sale of 66 F-16C/D jets to Taiwan has been approved by the House of Representatives.
The bill will now go to the US Senate before being sent to US President Barack Obama for his signature.
While there is no guarantee the amendment will survive, its approval certainly increases pressure on the White House to make the sale.
The amendment was introduced by US Representative Kay Granger.
“The bipartisan vote approving this amendment speaks to the tremendous support this sale enjoys in the House,” US-Taiwan Business Council president Rupert -Hammond-Chambers said.
“The Taiwan air force is nearing an operational crisis point. Within five years, more than half of Taiwan’s current fighter fleet will be retired, leaving fewer than 200 aircraft to defend the island,” he added.
The new F-16C/Ds would -provide Taiwan with a “credible deterrent to Chinese adventurism,” Hammond-Chambers said.
In September last year, the US and Taiwan reached a US$5.85 billion deal to upgrade Taiwan’s more than 100 aging F-16A/B planes, which have been in service for more than a decade. At the time, Washington said Taiwan’s request to procure F-16C/Ds was under review.
Taiwan has been eager to procure new jets and enhance its defense capability amid concerns over China’s growing military strength.
Additional reporting by CNA