The Ministry of National Defense (MND) yesterday denied reports that Taiwan’s latest bid to purchase new F-16 aircraft was turned down by the US Department of State on Friday.
In an article on Monday, Defense News reported that the State Department had turned down a request by the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in Washington to submit a new official letter of request (LOR) to the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) for the 66 F-16C/Ds, which Taiwan has sought to purchase for years.
The article said the State Department had blocked the request on behalf of the US National Security Council.
A US source independently confirmed to the Taipei Times yesterday that the request was turned down.
This would be the fourth failed attempt to submit an LOR for the F-16s and the first by President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration. The first three bids were made between June 2006 and February 2007 under former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
Citing an unnamed US defense source, Defense News described the situation as a catch-22 for Taiwan, in which TECRO was unable to submit an LOR to the AIT because the institute was under orders by the State Department to deny it, while TECRO was told by the State Department that the LOR could not be processed because it had not been received.
However, ministry spokesman David Lo (羅紹和) yesterday denied the claims by Defense News, saying that "no such thing had happened."
This latest development occurs as Taiwan’s allies in Washington are increasing pressure on US President Barack Obama’s administration to release the F-16s to help Taiwan’s air force keep pace with an increasingly modern Chinese air force. US Senator John Cornyn last week threatened to block a full US Senate review for the nomination of William Burns as US deputy state secretary until Washington agreed to receive an LOR on the aircraft and release a long-delayed report to the US Congress on the balance of air power in the Taiwan Strait.
Defense analysts maintain that Cornyn’s move created a window of opportunity for Taiwan to immediately submit a new LOR.
Lockheed, the manufacturer of the F-16, said that unless it receives new orders, the line for the F-16C/Ds is scheduled to close at the end of 2013.
While efforts to acquire the F-16C/Ds remain stalled, a US$4.5 billion program to refurbish Taiwan’s fleet of 146 F-16A/Bs it had acquired in 1992 is expected to commence later this year or next year.
The Aerospace Industrial Development Corp (漢翔航空工業), a government-owned civilian and military aircraft manufacturer, will also deliver a batch of 71 refurbished Indigenous Defence Fighter (IDF) aircraft to the air force tomorrow as part of a US$588 million program to provide IDFs with a longer operational range and greater payload. The first IDFs entered service in 1994.
Some analysts see the IDF upgrades as a potential alternative should Taiwan fail to make headway on the F-16C/Ds. However, analysts are adamant that the technologically refreshed IDFs and F-16A/Bs will not be enough to counter the growing threat posed by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force and that the F-16C/Ds will be needed to replace Taiwan’s F-5 and Mirage 2000 aircraft that are scheduled for retirement within the decade.
Additional reporting by CNA
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: China might impose a blockade, conduct limited force operations, use an air and missile campaign, or resort to an invasion, the report said The US Department of Defense has identified four possible military courses of action that China could take against Taiwan, but did not offer any guess on when Beijing might be ready to act. In an annual report to the US Congress released on Tuesday titled Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2022, the department gave a broad overview of China’s military capabilities, strategy, ambitions and intentions. The report devoted significant space to developments related to Taiwan, against which it said China had intensified diplomatic, economic, political and military pressure last year. For example, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA)
Taipei on Friday rejected Hanoi’s characterization of its recent live-fire drill near Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) as “illegal,” saying that Taiwan’s claim to the small island in the South China Sea was “unquestionable.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a statement that the comments made by its Vietnamese counterpart about the military’s routine live-fire drills near Itu Aba on Tuesday were “unacceptable.” Earlier on Friday, Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang called Taiwan’s military activity “a serious violation of Vietnam’s territorial sovereignty,” saying it had caused tensions and complicated the situation in the region. Hang
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) is planning to offer advanced 4-nanometer chips when its new US$12 billion plant in Arizona opens in 2024, an upgrade from its previous public statements, after US customers such as Apple Inc pushed the company to do so, according to people familiar with the matter. TSMC is expected to announce the new plan when US President Joe Biden and US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo visit the facility near Phoenix for a ceremony on Tuesday next week, the people said. The TSMC plant had been slated to make 5-nanometer semiconductors, a standard that would be far
PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE MEETING: The statement by the former US representative came as Congress is poised to back US$10 billion to bolster Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities Former US representative Will Hurd yesterday said visiting Taiwan has made him realize that China’s “one country, two systems” framework is not a feasible solution for Taiwan. Hurd, who is visiting Taiwan with an international delegation, made the remarks when meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) at the Presidential Office in Taipei. There is bipartisan support for Taiwan in Washington, with Republicans and Democrats agreeing that only the 23.5 million Taiwanese can decide the nation’s future, said Hurd, a trustee at the Washington-based German Marshall Fund think tank. Former German lawmaker Marieluise Beck said that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has changed mindsets