Taiwanese officials based in Washington on Monday denied a US news report that Taiwan asked to buy F-35 fighters from the US a decade ago.
The officials, familiar with foreign and defense affairs, described the report as “totally untrue.”
Given that the F-35 only flew for the first time in 2006, it is impossible that Taiwan could have submitted a letter of intent to buy the aircraft as early as 10 years ago, they said.
According to the report published on DefenseNews.com, Taiwan submitted a letter of intent through its representative office in the US for a briefing on future price and availability data for 120 F-35B aircraft in 2002.
A “bolder request” for 60 F-35Bs and 150 F-35A conventional fighters was made in 2004, the report said.
DefenseNews has reported the existence of Taiwan’s letter of intent in the past and quoted a passage from the letter in its most recent article.
“The primary purpose of this acquisition is to provide a credible response capability in the event that our air bases become non-functional due to initial air, missile and special operations force attack,” DefenseNews quoted the letter as saying.
The F-35B is a short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft and would help overcome the damage caused to runways by missiles in case of an attack by China, the report said.
Separately, the military is planning to begin putting its 12 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters back into service next week, about two months after it grounded the aircraft after being notified by the US of a failure in the same model, a military official said yesterday.
Army Aviation Special Forces pilots will be able to fly the helicopters once they are fitted with new main transmission boxes and have been tested, Army Command Headquarters Planning Division director Wu Tien-an (吳天安) said.