Sat, May 26, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Taiwanese air force faces plane shortage by 2020

MUST HAVE:By 2020, the number of fighter aircraft in the air force would decrease by 70 percent without the acquisition of new F-16s, a US congressional report says

By J. Michael Cole  /  Staff reporter

Such signaling has given rise to speculation in defense circles that Taiwan might want out of the F-16C/D project, at a time when the White House may finally be willing to make the aircraft available. A defense industry source told the Taipei Times yesterday that Taiwan’s National Security Council has been informed of the urgency of submitting a new letter of request for the F-16C/Ds to push the issue, but that such recommendations had “disappeared into a black hole.”

A strong indicator of a possible shift occurred on Thursday when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) met former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who arrived the same day on a three-day visit.

Although some were expecting that Ma would restate Taiwan’s interest in acquiring the F-16C/Ds, the president only mentioned the upgrades, telling Bush he hoped the program would provide the F-16A/Bs with capabilities “close to” those of the F-16C/Ds.

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