The Ministry of National Defense yesterday rejected a report that the US has proposed lending the Taiwanese air force Boeing F-15C/D Eagle warplanes, upgraded to the 2040C Eagle specification, as an interim air superiority fighter.
There were no proposals from the US to lend Taiwan such fighters, ministry spokesman Major General Chen Chung-chi (陳中吉) said, calling the report “pure speculation by the media.”
On Monday, Chinese-language online news outlet Up Media, citing an unnamed source, reported that US officials had expressed an interest in giving Taiwan refitted decommissioned F-15s.
The ministry has decided against asking the US for the Lockheed Martin F-35B, the short takeoff and vertical landing variant of the advanced stealth fighter, in favor of other options that might fill the air force’s high-altitude fighter gap, the report said.
The air force’s main high-altitude interceptor, the Dassault Mirage 2000, is aging and increasingly difficult to service, it added.
Taiwanese officials have specifically named the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet or the F-15 2040C, a proposed upgrade to the F-15C/D, as the preferred replacements, the report said.
Up Media quoted the source as saying that due to costs and diplomatic concerns, US officials have said that Washington might lend out, instead of selling, decommissioned F-15s upgraded to the 2040C specification.
US officials believe that giving Taiwan refurbished F-15s without auxiliary fuel tanks might allay China’s fears about Taipei having an advanced, long-range multi-role fighter, the source added.
There is precedent for the proposal, as Taiwan has received military equipment from the US via loans, including Northrop T-38 Talon jet trainers and Knox-class frigates, the report said.
The 2040C variant is designed to carry up to 16 air-to-air missiles, climb at 15,240m per minute and take off and land on relatively short runways.
The jets reportedly destined for Taiwan would have a mid-life upgrade package and avionics equivalent to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Mitsubishi F-15J, the report said.
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