Citing his state’s dismal unemployment rate, Florida Governor Rick Scott recently wrote to US President Barack Obama asking the federal government to accept Taiwan’s request to buy F-16C/D aircraft as soon as possible.
“The sale and manufacturing of F-16 aircraft by Lockheed Martin supports hundreds of skilled jobs in Florida. The sale of these aircraft will save 477 direct jobs and 1,446 indirect jobs in Florida,” Scott said in the letter dated Tuesday.
Expressing his deep concern with Florida’s high unemployment rate, the governor reminded Obama that the closing of the Space Shuttle Program has killed many high-paying manufacturing jobs in Florida — home to the Kennedy Space Center.
He also cited last year’s US Defense Intelligence Agency assessment of Taiwan’s defense capabilities that showed “a clear need for improved aircraft for Taiwanese defense.”
At the end of the letter, Scott made clear that although the unemployment rate in Florida is at its lowest point since 2009, 10.6 percent, or 980,000 out-of-work Floridians, is still too high.
“Approving this sale will help save jobs,” he said.
Taiwan made the request to Washington years ago for advanced fighters and an update to its aging F-16 fleet. However, the deal has been shelved because of China’s strong opposition, despite Taiwan’s insistence that they are vital to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait.