Taiwan needs F-16C/D jets, Deputy Minister of National Defense Andrew Yang (楊念祖) said yesterday in the wake of a promise by the US to “consider” selling new fighters to Taiwan.
Taipei needs F-16C/Ds, despite Washington’s agreement to an F-16A/B retrofit package last year, Yang told the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.
In September last year, the US and Taiwan agreed on a US$5.85 billion deal to upgrade the country’s aging fleet of 145 F-16A/Bs, which has been in service for more than a decade.
The key elements of the retrofit package include advanced Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) systems and AIM-9X air-to-air missiles, neither of which are provided in some F-16C/D models.
“If the US agrees to sell Taiwan the jets, the country will ask for F-16C/Ds with better equipment,” Yang said, adding that this would enhance the nation’s air combat capabilities.
However, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said during a break in the meeting that “what we really need is the F-35 jet.”
Lin said that this would be difficult to achieve because “lots of countries are waiting in line,” citing Japan and South Korea as Asian nations also seeking the advanced jets.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said there “is a long way to go” before the US even sells Taiwan the F-16C/Ds, let alone F-35s.
“The US will consider China’s attitude when making decisions on the issue, and China will undoubtedly do everything it can to stop any deal from going ahead,” Tsai said.