Questions emerged at the weekend as to whether Taiwan could afford both a multibillion-dollar upgrade program for its F-16A/B combat aircraft and new F-16C/Ds, amid claims that the price for the upgrade had been inflated since the deal was announced last year.
The air force received a Letter of Answer from the US last week on the US$5.3 billion upgrade package for its 145 F-16A/Bs and is now reviewing the prices of the items on the list, Air Force Command Headquarters said yesterday.
“We will sign an agreement on the deal only after we have completed an overall review and have determined that all the items meet our requirements or demands,” it said in a statement.
Photo: Yu Tai-lang, Taipei Times
About one week before the letter was received, Washington said it would give “serious consideration” to long-stalled efforts by Taipei to acquire 66 F-16C/Ds. A notification to the US Congress in September last year approved the upgrade package, but did not include the new aircraft.
The possibility that the US could agree to upgrade the F-16A/Bs and release the F-16C/Ds might now force the cash-strapped ministry to make a difficult choice. Since 2008, the US has agreed to about US$13 billion in arms sales to Taiwan, which has also embarked on a costly effort to adopt a fully professional military system by 2015.
In an article published on Saturday, Defense News said the US Air Force had been pressuring Taiwan to pay for nonrecurring engineering (NRE) costs related to the research, development, testing and integration of the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a key component of the upgrade package. The article said those costs were not included in the September notification.
An unnamed consultant for the ministry told the magazine that Taiwan was “getting a raw deal” from the US, because the additional money Taiwan would need to spend on NRE costs would “break the bank.”
The same day, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said the additional NRE costs could make the upgrades more expensive than acquiring new F-16C/Ds.
Preliminary negotiations have already been conducted and the Taiwanese air force is of the opinion that the US price is too high and the government’s finances will simply not stretch that far, Lin said.
The air force yesterday denied that the price for the upgrade package had been inflated, but declined to specify the amount of the deal.
A defense sources told the Taipei Times earlier this year that Taipei could avoid the NRE costs by waiting for South Korea to decide which type of AESA radar it would adopt as part of the upgrade program for its 135 KF-16C/Ds. Two firms, Raytheon Corp and Northrop Grumman Corp, are bidding for the AESA program and Seoul is expected to make its decision this month or next month.
The US Air Force, which is also scheduled to upgrade 350 of its F-16s, could save money by having other countries, such as Taiwan or South Korea, pay for the NRE costs.
In February, the Executive Yuan informed the air force that it would only allow US$3.7 billion for the upgrade program. While the military insists on acquiring the AESA radar, it could lower the cost by opting not to acquire some of the items included in the notification, such as certain types of Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) kits.
The letter received last week is said to have reflected the US$3.7 billion ceiling set by the Executive Yuan after Taiwan negotiated for the removal of items it did not seek to acquire.
Deputy Minister of National Defense Andrew Yang (楊念祖) told the legislature on Saturday that if the capabilities of the F-16C/Ds were no better than those of the F-16A/Bs following the upgrade, the military could consider not purchasing the new aircraft.
Clarifying Yang’s remarks, ministry spokesman Major General David Lo (羅紹和) said the air force was preparing to upgrade its -F-16A/Bs and that the capabilities of any future purchases made by the air force would have to surpass those of the F-16A/B.
Yang’s comments were based on practicality and were not a conditional requirement, Lo said.
Additional reporting by CNA
translation by Jake Chung, Staff Writer
The Taipei Grand Mosque yesterday said its earlier decision to cancel Eid al-Fitr celebrations on Sunday to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan would stand, even though there have been no new domestic cases of COVID-19 in more than a month. It will be the first time in 60 years that the event has not be held at the mosque. The Ministry of Labor had asked all mosques to suspend Eid al-Fitr celebrations and prayers this year, due to COVID-19 concerns, and encouraged Muslims to pray at home. This year Ramadan began on April 23 and is to
KAOHSIUNG VOTE: A city official allegedly wrote a message calling on supporters of Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu not to participate in the vote next month Prosecutors on Wednesday initiated an investigation of Kaohsiung Civil Affairs Bureau Director-General Tsao Huan-jung (曹桓榮) for allegedly telling supporters of Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) to interfere with a recall vote against Han, while pan-green politicians denounced the mayor and his team for devising ways to obstruct voting. After receiving complaints from residents, the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office launched its probe of Tsao for alleged breaches of the Civil Servants Election and Recall Act (公職人員選舉罷免法). Complainants provided evidence that Tsao on Saturday last week wrote on messaging app Line that Han supporters should not vote in the June 6 recall vote, saying:
BILINGUAL ASSISTANCE: The center launched a chat bot that features Chinese and English interfaces to provide foreigners with instant information about the pandemic The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that it would discuss with other nations the possibility of allowing businesspeople to visit on a case-by-case basis. Asked about loosening border restrictions, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said at the daily CECC news briefing that while the center is cautious about opening the nation’s borders, it would aim to diminish obstacles for important trade interactions without risking transmission of the novel coronavirus. Several foreign representatives in Taiwan have expressed an interest in the matter and the center would conduct related negotiations with the help of the
DELUSIONAL: The male patient said he did not know that the woman had mental problems, but the court said that her being restrained in isolation should have given him pause The Taiwan High Court has ordered the Jhudong branch of the Taiwan National University Hospital and a male patient to jointly pay a former female patient’s family NT$400,000 in compensation after the man had sex with the woman, who has mental problems, while hospitalized. The 26-year-old woman has been diagnosed with a mental disorder, a symptom of which is that she obsessively seeks to have sex, her mother said. The mother filed a formal complaint and sought damages from the hospital and the male patient surnamed Chen (陳) after finding out that her daughter had sex with the man while