Fri, Sep 30, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Lockheed lobbies for F-16s for Taiwan

MEMO POINTS:An e-mail sent to US lawmakers outlined the benefits of the sale and asked why China was so opposed to Taiwan getting new F-16s if they were irrelevant

Reuters, Washington

In addition, Taiwan is advancing the “state-of-the-art in rapid runway repair technology” and routinely practices using open roadway stretches for fighters’ launch and recovery to curb dependence on airfields, it said.

The Lockheed memo also took aim at what it called an expected “red herring” conclusion of the Pentagon report. It described this as the idea that Taiwan needed an aircraft capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings (STOVL) because of the Chinese missile threat to Taiwan’s runways.

Only two STOVL aircraft models have been developed — the BAe AV-8 Harrier, which has been out of production since 1997, and Lockheed’s own F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, which will not be available for export until the later part of this decade, the memo said.

Even if available today, the US administration would most likely refuse the F-35B to Taiwan because of its advanced radar-evading capabilities, the memo said.

The F-35, the memo added, could be construed as introducing a new level of capability, something that would conflict with a joint communique signed by the US and China in August 1982.

“If new F-16s are so irrelevant, why is China so vigorously opposed to their sale to Taiwan?” Lockheed’s memo added in its rebuttal points.

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