US Senator James Inhofe yesterday said he was optimistic about the US government’s authorization for the long-stalled sale of F-16C/D aircraft to Taiwan, adding that the bid could receive support from more than half the members of the US Senate in the near future.
Accompanied by US Senator John Boozman and members of a congressional delegation that he led on a two-day visit to Taiwan, Inhofe, a co-chair of the US Congressional Taiwan Caucus, was cited as making the remark during a luncheon at the legislature hosted by Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平).
Several officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of National Defense, as well as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), who doubles as chairman of the Taiwan-US Inter-Parliamentary Amity Association, also attended the luncheon.
“Inhofe has been a long-time supporter of Taiwan and is very concerned about the nation’s defense capabilities,” Lin said afterwards.
With more than 30 members of the 100-seat US Senate having signed a signature drive to urge the sales, Inhofe expressed confidence at the luncheon that the resolution could receive support from more than half of his peers, Lin said.
Lin said Inhofe supported a proposal by Wang for Taiwan to purchase F-35 aircraft. He added that his suggestion that the US transfer submarine-building techniques to Taiwan was also well-received by Inhofe.
During a later meeting with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) at the Presidential Office, Inhofe said the US would keep its promise on deliveries of arms packages to Taiwan, including 30 AH-64E Apache helicopters this year, 60 UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters next year and PAC-3 air defense units in 2015.
Ma said that with previous arms sales worth US$12.5 billion, which the US offered Taiwan less than three years into his presidency, the US government has provided US$18.3 billion worth of weapons to Taiwan, which shows the US’ sincerity in helping strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities.