Sat, Aug 19, 2006 - Page 3 News List

MND mulls F16 purchase

CNA , TAIPEI

The Ministry of National Defense has completed a combat assessment on the planned purchase of 66 F-16C/D fighter aircraft from the US, although the matter is still at the stage of program establishment, ministry spokesman Wu Chi-fang (吳季方) said yesterday.

Wu also said the ministry had no comment on whether the US has agreed to the sale and whether the funds have been included in next year's defense budget.

The administration plans to raise the defense budget next year to 2.85 percent of GDP, which will mean an increase of about NT$40 billion (US$1.23 billion) over this year's defense budget, ministry officials said.

The officials noted that because of military streamlining, personnel spending will not increase rapidly.

Next year's increased spending will go mainly toward defense buildup, they added.

According to wire agencies reports from Washington late last month, the government is planning to purchase the F-16C/D fighters over a period of five to 10 years, and the deal could be worth US$5.5 billion.

The F-16 C/Ds procurement is part of the military's renovation plan as the government has decided to phase out its aging F5E/Fs.

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