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Obama opts for upgrading Taiwan's F-16s

(Shanghai Daily)

08:31, September 22, 2011

The Obama administration formally notified the US Congress yesterday of a potential US$5.3 billion upgrade of Taiwan's existing fleet of US-built F-16 fighter jets.

The "retrofit" of 145 Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 A/B aircraft will give them essentially the same capabilities as late-model F-16 C/Ds that Taiwan has sought to deter any attack, US officials told reporters.

The Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in its notice that Taiwan had requested 176 state-of-the-art Active Electronically Scanned Array, or AESA, radar sets, in addition to a long list of advanced air-to-air missiles and other hardware for the F-16s sold by the US in 1992.

A US-based expert on Taiwan's military who asked not to be named said the air-to-air hardware included "basically everything" Taiwan had sought, including the latest version of heat-seeking Raytheon Co AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles and all-weather-capable AIM-120C7 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air missiles, or AMRAAM.

Maintain advantage

Lockheed Martin Corp builds the F-16. Raytheon and Northrop Grumman Corp are expected to compete to supply the AESA radar sets.

Such advanced radar "offers a significant capability that would be able to maintain Taiwan's qualitative advantage" over existing fighters of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, said Mark Stokes, a former Pentagon China desk chief who heads the Project 2049 Institute, an Asia security research group.

In opting for the F-16 upgrade, US President Barack Obama deferred Taiwan's long-standing request for 66 new late-model F-16 C/D aircraft.

On Capitol Hill, a total of 47 of the 100 senators and 181 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives have written to Obama since May to urge him to sell Taiwan at least 66 late-model F-16 C/Ds.

In January 2010, China froze military-to-military ties and threatened sanctions against US firms after Obama approved a potential US$6.4 billion arms sale to Taiwan.

In a commentary ahead of the announcement yesterday, Xinhua news agency warned that the US "should fully realize the hazard and sensibility of its arms sales deal with Taiwan and stop it to avoid any harm to China-US ties as well as cross-Straits relations."


Leave your comment3 comments

  1. Name

wende at 2011-09-2371.255.83.*
F16A/B is close to F16C/D. It is just like when a man upgraded his basic car, he will be like having bought a loaded version. When you add things to a Corolla SE you will end up like having an LE. It is time China shows its teeth and bite than just bark.
PD User at 2011-09-22122.156.204.*
unit state is a tiger of paper !
helen at 2011-09-22141.0.8.*
The United States enjoys making fun of Chinese leaders ever so often. The Dalai Lama talks with Obama froze military ties. After sometime, the US encouraged China military to flirt with US military again. And then all the military visits and "talks" ensued as if nothing happened.The US now intends to sell or upgrade Taiwan"s air force and military knowing very well Chinese leaders will play tantrums and threaten to freeze military "ties or talks". The United States just laugh among themselves knowing very well Chinese leaders will cave in again and agree to resume "talks or ties" with US military after a very short while.This game is regularly played out to the amusement of the United States, its military and the US media. Chinese leaders" infantilism and empty threats are now the favourite jokes in the Pentagon and the US State Department.Will the next generation of leaders from 2012 humiliate China and the Chinese people again just as the present leader never misses an opportunity to kowtow to US leaders!!!???

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