Thu, Apr 11, 2019 - Page 3 News List

No word expected until July about US fighter jets

Staff writer, with CNA

A General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon warplane stands on the apron of a Republic of China Air Force base on March 6.

Photo: Aaron Tu, Taipei Times

Washington is expected to inform Taiwan in July whether it will sell new fighter jets that Taipei has requested, Minister of National Defense Minister Yen De-fa (嚴德發) told lawmakers yesterday as he rebutted media reports that the US had set aside the deal amid efforts to reach a trade pact with Beijing.

The government in February submitted a letter of request to the US for a fleet of planes.

The US Department of Defense needs to notify the US Congress whether it has decided to grant the sale within 150 days of receiving the letter, Yen said.

“So we expect to learn the US decision in July,” Yen said.

Yen’s comments came as he clarified a Time magazine report last week that the White House’s initial decision, reported late last month, to offer tacit approval for Taiwan to buy 60 Lockheed Martin F-16Vs was widely seen as a US show of strength against China, while the decision to delay approval had contributed to concern among some in US President Donald Trump’s administration that Trump mighty “go soft” on China in his desire to secure a trade deal.

Although the military has not confirmed what type of jets it asked for in the request, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has said Taiwan is seeking F-16Vs.

Republic of China Air Force Chief of Staff Liu Jen-yuan (劉任遠) confirmed that his service is asking for 66 fighters.

According to a Ministry of National Defense arms sales chart, should the US give the request a green light, it would send a letter of offer and acceptance (LOA) to Taiwan detailing its offer.

Officials in Taipei would review the offer and complete a proposal for the procurement before sending the LOA back to the US.

Various US government agencies would then review the proposal before the US government notifies the Congress of the sale and the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency makes the deal public.

The process is completed once both sides sign the LOA, the chart showed.

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