Fri, Feb 07, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Threats to US plans for jet fleet debated

STILL COMMITTED:US Assistant Secretary for East Asia Daniel Russel stressed that the administration took its unofficial relations with Taiwan ‘very seriously’

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

Separately, a statement from the US-Taiwan Business Council said that recent reports indicated that the alleged defunding by the US Air Force of CAPES would negatively impact Taiwan.

“The Council believes these reports to be inaccurate,” the statement said. “Should this defunding occur, it will have no impact on the schedule or cost for Taiwan’s extensive upgrade program, including on the development of the Active Electronically Scanned Array radar.”

“The Council understands that the US Air Force remains fully committed to the Taiwan F-16 upgrade program and that their assurances are reflected in the signed Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA)... That commitment ensures that the cost and schedule put in place by the LOA remains and that the Taiwan military will not see any changes to their program even if the CAPES program is altered,” the statement said.

US-Taiwan Business Council president Rupert Hammond-Chambers said: “I am pleased that the US Air Force remains committed to the Taiwan upgrade program and to the assurances that were made in the LOA... This retrofit program is the first of two steps to upgrade Taiwan’s fighter fleet, with the second step — the purchase of replacement F-16C/Ds — still to be approved.”

He added that the ongoing impact of tighter US defense spending and the decisions impacting fighter upgrades merely highlighted the need for the US to continue to build capacity among its Asia-Pacific region security allies, including Taiwan.

“Taiwan has a legitimate need for additional fighters to meet its sovereign security requirements and F-16C/Ds would best fit that need,” Hammond-Chambers added.

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