Premier signs off on F-16V bill

JETS SET::Funding of up to NT$250 billion for the procurement would come from revenue surplus from the previous fiscal year and loans, the draft proposal says

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Sep 06, 2019 - Page 1

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday signed off on a draft bill that would serve as the legal basis for the establishment of a NT$250 billion (US$7.99 billion) special budget to procure 66 F-16Vs in response to increasing threats posed by Chinese military actions.

The “bill for the procurement of updated fighter jets” was drafted after the US Department of State last month approved an arms sale package to Taiwan.

Under the bill, the procurement plan would cover the acquisition of the jets and their equipment, as well as the acquisition, maintenance, development and manufacture of ancillary systems.

The costs are to be covered by a special budget of up to NT$250 billion sourced from the revenue surplus from the previous fiscal year and loans, the proposal says.

The bill has a Dec. 31, 2026, deadline.

Referring to frequent flybys by Chinese People’s Liberation Army warplanes and an incident in March in which two Chinese warplanes crossed the Taiwan Strait median line, Su said that the Chinese military threat has seriously threatened national security and is of grave concern.

Taiwan, as a responsible stakeholder in the international community, needs to continue increasing its defense budget, the premier said, adding that it needs to improve its defense capabilities.

The planned acquisition represents the “biggest breakthrough” in the nation’s arms procurement and diplomacy since the US’ sale of F-16 A/B jets in 1992, and would be the largest arms package in recent years, he said.

Su credited President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) with securing the deal.

Tsai’s diplomatic efforts motivated Washington to approve the Taiwan Travel Act, the Taiwan Assurance Act and the National Defense Authorization Act: the fruits of warming Taiwan-US relations, Su said.

He expressed gratitude to the US for its commitment to maintaining Taiwan’s freedom and democracy.

He also thanked the Ministry of Finance and the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics for planning the procurement budget, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of National Defense for the package, which would help Taiwan “ensure national security and regional peace.”