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'No new US jets for Taiwan'

(Global Times)

11:06, August 16, 2011


A US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft returns to the fight after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft during a mission over Iraq June 10, 2008. (Photo: Wikipedia.org)

The US has reportedly turned down a request from Taiwan for advanced fighter jets and offered an upgrade of the island's current fleet instead, although analysts warned that either deal would do great harm to Sino-US ties.

A US Department of Defense delegation in Taiwan last week told local officials that they would not provide them with the new F-16C/D fighter jets, despite requests made by the island since 2007, the US-based Defense News reported Sunday.

Instead, the US side intended to offer an upgrade package for Taiwan's aging F-16 A/Bs.

"We are so disappointed in the US," a Taiwan official told the journal, attributing the failure of the deal to pressure from Beijing.

"We have been in frequent contact with the US government. The last time we heard from them, they were not sure when the sale will be approved, or even if they will be approved," Luo Shou-he, a spokesman of Taiwan's "defense ministry," told Reuters, adding that the island is in urgent need of the new jets.

Washington had previously promised to make a decision by October 1 on whether to approve the sale of 66 F-16C/D jets to Taiwan.

According to the Defense News, the proposed $4.2 billion upgrade package would make the 146 Taiwanese F-16A/Bs among the most capable variants of the aircraft.

The new gear would include an AESA radar, likely either Northrop Grumman's Scalable Agile Beam Radar or the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar, it said.

"The types of upgrades they are talking about would make them the most advanced F-16s in the world. This is a significant upgrade, and I am sure a lot of that work will go to Taiwanese companies. In that regard, it may be a better deal," Richard Bitzinger, a senior fellow and regional defense expert at Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, told Reuters.
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