Wed, Mar 20, 2019 - Page 3 News List

President confirms request made to buy US fighter jets

Staff writer, with CNA

President Tsai Ing-wen, third right — accompanied by National Security Council Secretary-General David Lee, fourth right, and Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin, second right — attends the opening ceremony of Cybersec 2019 in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday confirmed that her administration has made a formal request to the US to purchase F-16s after an overall evaluation of Taiwan’s defense needs.

The Ministry of National Defense has officially submitted a letter of request to Washington to buy a fleet of F-16V aircraft, Tsai told a group of visitors from the Republic of China Air Force Elementary School Alumni Association of the US and Canada.

The decision was made following a careful evaluation to determine the advantages of the F-16V compared with other fighter jets, she said, while receiving the visitors at the Presidential Office Building in Taipei.

“I believe the decision will be supported by our citizens,” Tsai said, adding that it is the first time since 1992 that Taiwan has made a request to the US to purchase new fighter jets.

It has been 22 years since the first two F-16A/B aircraft bought from the US were put into service in the air force, she said.

It is time for Taiwan to acquire more advanced fighter jets for the safety of its pilots, to boost its defense capabilities and to safeguard peace and stability in the region, she added.

Tsai’s remarks followed a report by the Chinese-language Apple Daily that the ministry on Feb. 27 had made a request to purchase a fleet of 66 F-16s at a cost of US$13 billion, which would include missiles and related logistics, as well as the training of pilots and maintenance personnel.

The ministry later confirmed that it had made a request to buy a fleet of the fighter jets, but declined to say whether it had specified the F-16V model.

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