Fri, Jul 18, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Air force mulls suing maker of downed fighter


The manufacturer of an F-16 fighter that crashed here four years ago should pay compensation for the loss of the plane, the air force said in this month's edition of one of its internal publications.

The US government has refused to compensate Taiwan for the crash, which was caused by generator problems.

The manufacturer of the F-16, though it does not have contract relations with the Taiwan government, should shoulder responsibility since the F-16 is its product, the air force academic monthly says.

The F-16 crashed in August 1999 in southern Taiwan.

The US government has shunned responsibility for the crash, saying the sale of F-16s to Taiwan is a non-profit action on its part and that it is not an arms dealer, the air force academic monthly says.

It also claims the contract on the F-16 deal states the US government is not required to guarantee that the planes would be free of problems, the publication says.

It is the first time that the air force made public part of its contract with the US on the F-16 purchase.

The air force refused to explain why it took the move or whether it will take legal action against the manufacturer of the F-16, Lockheed Martin.

The part of the contract that has been exposed suggests that the contract may not have been signed on the basis of equality.

The contract looks to be in favor of the seller, the US government, while the buyer, the Taiwan government, accepted the arrangement.

The US government sold the F-16s under the foreign-military-sales program, under which the US government bought the planes from the manufacturer and then resold them to Taiwan.

The publication suggests the air force might take legal action against the manufacturer but admits at the same time that a lawsuit might not resolve the dispute.

Filing a suit against the manufacturer might result in demands from the US company for the military to provide records about the operation and maintenance of the planes.

If the air force were found to have not operated and maintained the F-16s according to the operation manuals provided by the manufacturer, it would have no chance of winning the suit.

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