A delegation of Taiwanese lawmakers visiting the US last week reached a deal to buy jet engines from US contractors, purportedly saving billions of New Taiwan dollars in taxpayers’ money, an anonymous source with knowledge of the matter said.
The Legislative Yuan Foreign and National Defense Committee’s bipartisan delegation on Saturday returned to the nation after a week-long visit to the US, where they met with members of the US Congress and military.
The delegation visited International Turbine Engine Co (ITEC) to discuss the purchase of jet engines for Taiwan’s indigenous high-performance trainer jet program.
ITEC is a joint venture by the US-based Honeywell Aerospace and Taiwan’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC), created to facilitate technology transfers to and procurement by Taiwan.
During the visit, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers lobbied Honeywell into scrapping a planned price hike on the engines, the source said.
The price hike would have imposed an additional cost of billions of NT dollars and complicated the government’s plans for the trainer jet, the source said.
Lawmakers from both parties told the US contractors that no additional budget for the engines’ procurement is available under Taiwan’s parliamentary rules, and any price hike would delay the purchase, the source said.
After days of negotiations, Honeywell agreed to keep the prices unchanged and a contract is expected to be signed in October, the source said.
The successful negotiation showed “what can be accomplished when the legislature and the executive work together,” the source added.
The source refused to divulge information regarding the delegation’s meetings with US military personnel, some of whom were purportedly high-ranking and influential generals.
However, delegation leader DPP Legislator Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) on Friday posted a photograph on Facebook, showing the US Pacific commander’s medallion, implying the lawmakers had met with US Admiral Harry Harris, head of the US Pacific Command.
Delegation member DPP Legislator Wu Kuen-yuh (吳焜裕) said that members of the US Congress showed a high level of interest in Taiwan’s national defense.
Wu said that a US lawmaker told him that it is important for Taiwan to “demonstrate its will to defend itself in a military conflict,” specifically in reference to “dedicating a higher share for defense in the overall budget.”
Wu quoted the US lawmaker as saying that “the citizens of Taiwan need to have a clear understanding of who is their enemy,” adding that the US lawmaker recommended Taiwan develop a national consensus through education.
The US lawmaker reassured that Washington remains committed to Taiwan’s security, as it is in the US’ national interest to maintain stability in the Asia-Pacific region, Wu said.
The delegation also met with US Representative Ed Royce, Hawaii Governor David Ige and Hawaii Army National Guard Deputy Adjutant Kenneth Hara, among others.
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