Taiwan’s airpower situation is deteriorating and replacement of its tactical aircraft is necessary, justified and not provocative, US Senator Richard Lugar told US Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton in a letter dated April 1.
“Given the decrepit state of Taiwan’s F-5s, the service life issues associated with its IDF [Indigenous Defense Fighter] and a growing problem … obtaining affordable and sustainable access to spare parts for Mirages, I am very concerned that if the Administration does not act favorably on Taiwan’s outstanding Letter of Request (LOR) for sales of F-16C/D aircraft, Taiwan will be forced to retire all of its existing F-16A/B aircraft in the next decade, leaving it with no credible air-to-air capability,” wrote Lugar, a ranking member of the Committee on Foreign relations.
The Republican also expressed concern over what he characterized as the tenuous nature of Taiwan’s current fleet of fighter aircraft and the urgent requirement to retire obsolete F-5 and Mirage airframes, upgrade F-16A/Bs and IDFs and procure new F-16C/Ds to replace retiring aircraft.
Echoing those views, the US-Taiwan Business Council wrote that Taiwan had a “legitimate requirement to maintain a credible air deterrent in the face of a growing military threat from China — a threat that, to date, has not been adequately discussed nor responded to by the [US President Barack] Obama Administration.”
In a press release also dated April 1, council president Rupert Hammond-Chambers said: “The [US] Administration remains unwilling to respond to China’s growing military threat in regards to Taiwan.”
Reports emerged last week that the Obama administration could be delaying approval of a US$4.5 billion upgrade program for Taiwan’s 146 F-16A/Bs, which has been seen as more likely to materialize than the US$5.5 billion sale of 66 F-16C/Ds long requested by Taiwan. According to Defense News, some US officials are wary of including the active electronically scanned array radar or using the older APG-68 mechanical radar in the package for fear that the newest technology could fall in Chinese hands.
Hammond-Chambers told Defense News the F-16A/B program should be ready for notification next year, even if Obama balked at sending it to the Hill. The price and availability data, however, remains stuck at the US Department of State.
In the press release, Hammond-Chambers said US assistance to Taiwan in the form of arms sales had facilitated, rather than undermined, rapprochement in the Taiwan Strait.
“By providing Taiwan with necessary military hardware, America has underpinned the recent cross-strait detente — a policy the council supports. To deny Taiwan a credible defense force at this critical time means a weaker Taiwan in the face of an increasingly emboldened China. This is not in the interests of the United States,” he said.
Hammond-Chambers said current US policy toward Taiwan seemed to consist entirely of “periodic rhetorical support” for economic engagement between Taiwan and China along with reiteration of past policy positions such as support for the Taiwan Relations Act — albeit without concrete action that would support this contention.
“Cross-strait economic engagement has clearly reaped benefits in the short-term as tensions have been reduced,” Hammond--Chambers said, “yet the Taiwan populace still overwhelmingly rejects China’s expressed goal of unification.”
With pressure on Taipei to engage in talks beyond economics — to include politics and the military — expected to increase in the coming years, he said, if Taiwan lacked a credible defense and Beijing calculated that Washington did not have the resolve to assist Taiwan, the risk of miscalculation by Beijing would soar and could in extremis lead to war.
“While arms sales may cause short-term difficulties in bilateral relations with China, they have always returned again to a solid baseline,” Hammond-Chambers said. “If America succumbs to the short-term expediency of not providing Taiwan with much-needed and meaningful capabilities, the chance of Chinese adventurism rises.”
‘HIDDEN GEM’: The city earned plaudits for its low crime rate, world-class healthcare system, cheap cost of living and easy public transportation Taipei has been named the 10th best city in the world for quality of living in an annual survey by the editors of Monocle, a UK-based global affairs and lifestyle magazine. The survey, which is to be published in the magazine’s July/August issue, selected the world’s top 25 cities based on factors including cost of living, retail, hospitality, culture and access to green spaces, as well as feedback from Monocle correspondents. Taipei’s 10th place finish was one place down from a year earlier. The survey ranked Copenhagen as the world’s best city, with Zurich, Lisbon, Helsinki and Stockholm rounding out the top five.
GLOBAL STRATEGY: Indo-Pacific alliances need reinforcement to prevent Chinese occupation of Taiwan, which would threaten Japan, Hawaii and Australia, Pompeo said The US should officially recognize Taiwan as a free, independent nation and establish official diplomatic ties, former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo told an event at the Hudson Institute in Washington on Friday. Every US president since Harry Truman has considered Taiwan’s existence to be of utmost importance to US national security, Pompeo said. Taiwan is a principal US partner in technology and economic matters, and if China were to capture Taiwan’s semiconductor supply chain, it would severely hamper the US economy, Pompeo said. Should China occupy Taiwan, it would severely weaken US influence in the Indo-Pacific region and its surrounding areas,
NO COMORBIDITIES: The girl died of encephalitis, the sixth COVID-19-related death of the disease this year and 19th death of a child from the virus, the center said The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 52,213 new domestically transmitted COVID-19 cases and 171 deaths from the virus, including a four-year-old girl, who had been diagnosed with encephalitis, and a 19-year-old man, who had underlying health conditions. “The caseloads are usually higher on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but they [yesterday] fell 7.3 percent from the day before,” Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said. Chuang, who is the CECC’s spokesman, said that most cities and counties reported a drop in new cases, and the CECC expects fewer than 50,000 new cases today. The center said that 150 of
LIMIT: The CECC has capped the number of weekly arrivals to 25,000, which critics said has limited the number of available flights and caused ticket prices to soar The government is not likely to raise the cap on the number of inbound travelers before the end of this month, despite the apparent effect on the number of inbound flights, Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) on Wednesday last week eased quarantine rules for inbound travelers, who must undergo three days of home quarantine upon arrival and spend another four days in self-initiated disease prevention. It also capped the number of inbound travelers to 25,000 per week. The weekly limit has drawn criticism that it has limited the number of flights