Fri, Jul 20, 2012 - Page 1 News List

F-16A/B upgrade not enough: council

JET LAG:With a squadron at a time out of action for refits from 2016, only half the fighter fleet would be operational, the US-Taiwan Business Council warned

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

“There are some who argue that the F-35B — the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the new US fighter — should be the focus of Taiwan efforts to modernize its fighter fleet,” Hammond-Chambers said.

Last year, a US Department of Defense report to Congress suggested that a STOVL aircraft might be the best solution for Taiwan.

“Certainly a STOVL variant would meet many of Taiwan’s needs and if it was available that could be an attractive option,” Hammond-Chambers said.

However, the F-35B would not be made available to Taiwan in the next decade, he said.

“It therefore fails to meet Taiwan’s fighter gap needs between 2016 and 2021,” he said.

Furthermore, the F-35B is significantly more expensive than the F-16C/D and would create even greater budgetary pressures for Taiwan’s “already underfunded” defense establishment, he said.

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