The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US (TECRO) has issued a statement expressing its “deep appreciation” to the 45 US senators who signed a bipartisan letter urging US President Barack Obama to sell 66 F-16C/D fighter planes to Taiwan.
“The letter demonstrates broad support in Congress for the sale of these fighters to Taiwan and the need for continuing to modernize Taiwan’s armed forces to promote stability, deterrence and peace,” the statement said.
“The letter recognizes that the Senate understands that the best way to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait is for Taiwan to have a strong deterrent capability and that the sale of F-16C/D aircraft will help form the center of Taiwan’s national defense,” it added.
TECRO said that the Taiwanese Air Force is expected to retire more than 150 aircraft over the next decade.
The new F-16C/Ds, with advanced avionics and weapons systems, would provide a “robust deterrence” against a rapidly -escalating Chinese threat, it said.
“During the past five years, mainland China has been adding new, advanced fighters, which dangerously tilts the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait,” TECRO said. “Mainland China also has more than 1,400 ballistic missiles pointed at Taiwan and has threatened military action against Taiwan in the past. This buildup has alarmed senators.”
The statement said that Taiwan faced a “direct threat” as a result of China’s “unprecedented military buildup” and adds that China was in the process of deploying next-generation ships, fighter aircraft and submarines.
“Military experts in both Taiwan and the United States have raised concerns that Taiwan is losing the qualitative advantage in defensive arms that has long served as its primary military deterrent against China,” it said. “US arms sales to Taiwan are mandated by the Taiwan Relations Act, which stipulates that sales are to be made based solely on the judgment of the needs of Taiwan.”
TECRO added that the sale of new F-16C/D fighters would strengthen US-Taiwan military cooperation, promote peace and create tens of thousands of jobs in the US manufacturing sector.
“That is a win-win for all parties involved,” TECRO said.
Ranking Member of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Senator Richard Lugar wrote last month to US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressing concern over Taiwan’s deteriorating airpower.