Tue, Jan 04, 2005 - Page 4 News List

Fighter jets may be mothballed

IN THE MINT Because of Taiwan's high humidity and other reasons, the Ministry of National Defense is considering putting away its planes

CNA , Taipei

Vice Minister of National Defense Tsai Ming-hsien, center, discussing the issue of `mothballing' some of Taiwan's planes in the legislature yesterday.

PHOTO: LIN CHENG-KUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The Ministry of National Defense has been considering whether to mothball some of the nation's jet fighters for several reasons, although no final decision has been made, Vice Minister of National Defense Tsai Ming-hsien (蔡明憲) said yesterday.

Tsai said that the defense ministry has talked with the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation, which has sold 60 Mirage-2000s to Taiwan over the past decade, about having some of them mothballed for a number of reasons, including Taiwan's climate and environment, which are harmful to the jet fighters due to the high humidity, high concentration of salt in the air, the high maintenance costs and a national defense budget that has been falling yearly.

Mothballing the Mirage-2000s would help lengthen the life expectancy of the French-made jet fighters and would help reduce maintenance costs, Tsai said.

Storing the jets would not affect the nation's air defense capability, even if in the event of a military invasion, Tsai said.

He added that many countries in the world, including the US, keep jet fighters and war ships in storage.

Tsai made the remarks during an interpellation session at the Legislative Yuan, where opposition legislators asked him for an explanation about a news report saying that some of the country's jet fighters are going into storage, including the Mirage-2000s and some IDFs.

In related news, Tsai noted that the air, army and navy branches of the military are on stand-by to dispatch their personnel and supplies to tsunami and earthquake-affected countries in South Asia based on humanitarian needs.

Currently, the navy is readying a 8,400-tonne transport frigate, while the air force is preparing six crews and seven C-130 transport planes, and the army is gathering emergency and relief supplies, including sterilization materials and equipment, as well as power generators, Tsai said.

He said that the military personnel and supplies will be ready to go whenever the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reaches a consensus with the governments of the South Asian countries on what is needed.

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