Obama to decide on Taiwan F-16 sale in October

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The Obama administration has committed to deciding by Oct. 1 whether to allow the sale of 66 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-16 jets to Taiwan, according to an aide to Sen. John Cornyn.

China opposes U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, which it considers a renegade province, and has tried to block sales of the F-16 airplanes to the island. Taiwan President Ma Ying-Jeou has pressed the U.S. to speed up decision on the jets.

Taiwan’s request for F-16 C/D model jets has been pending since 2006 and upgrades of its older F-16 A/B models have been on hold.

The U.S.-Taiwan Business Council said the timing of the decision “suggests that the Obama administration has no intention” of approving the sale of new F-16 jets. The date is sandwiched between Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to China in August and Chinese President Hu’s expected trip to Hawaii, the group said.

“It doesn’t seem plausible that the Obama administration would stand up for Taiwan policy in the face of two such senior visits from China,” the group said in a news release.

Source: Bloomberg

U.S. F-16s and C-130 to train in Poland

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President Barack Obama announced Saturday that the United States has agreed to send F-16 fighter jets and C-130 cargo aircraft to train in Poland, a move Polish leadership welcomed as a sign of the U.S. commitment to defend Central and Eastern Europe.

In a quick first step, F-16s from the California Air National Guard will work alongside Polish F-16s this July in a training exercise as part of the preparations for the EURO 2012 soccer tournament. Other F-16s and C-130s will be rotated to Poland starting in 2013. Despite Polish media reports before Obama’s visit, the agreement does not deploy any F-16s for long periods and does not transfer any from a key NATO base at Aviano, Italy.

In addition to the sending of F-16s and C-130s to Poland, Obama and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk discussed the new missile defense plan and said U.S. and Polish military will conduct talks on deploying land-based interceptors in Poland in 2018.

Obama came to Poland from that summit, noting that as a member of NATO, Poland is entitled to the same pledge of support as any NATO nation. “We defend each other,” Obama said.

“No US F-16s are being deployed permanently in Poland,” said a White House aide on condition of anonymity. “What we are talking about is regular rotations of U.S. military aircraft to Poland for training and exercises – four per year. U.S. aircraft will come for a few weeks to Poland and then return to their home station.”

Temporary or not, the dispatch of U.S. pilots to Poland sent a message of assurance to Polish leaders who are skittish about Obama’s work to improve relations with Poland’s old nemesis, Russia.

Seeking to improve commercial and personal ties, Obama also announced that he’ll ask Congress to change a law so that Poles can visit the United States without visas. Obama also met Saturday with some of the veterans of the Solidarity movement who first challenged Soviet rule and helped usher in the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Source: The Modesto Bee

Obama loosens arms sanctions on C130 to China

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U.S. President Obama issued a waiver loosening Tiananmen arms sanctions for C-130 military transports for China a day after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to an imprisoned Chinese dissident who dedicated the prize this past weekend to the victims of the 1989 crackdown.

Chinese state-run news media on Monday hailed the White House waiver announcement as a sign Washington is moving to lift the 11-year-old arms embargo.

However, White House National Security Council spokesman Michael Hammer said the waiver issued on Saturday will not allow C-130s sales. “Under this announcement, we are not selling any aircraft to anyone,” he stated in an e-mail.

The President’s letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announcing the waiver states that it is lifting a ban on “temporary munitions export licenses” for C-130s that currently is banned by the fiscal 1990 Foreign Relations Act. The law bars sales to China of “any defense item on the U.S. Munitions Control list” unless “the president makes a report” waiving the restriction.

Mr. Hammer said the waiver is intended to assist companies in Southeast Asia that use C-130s for cleaning up oil spills. The waiver will permit C-130s to land in China to refuel, or take on chemicals used in dispersing oil spills, after first obtaining a U.S. export license, he said.

The waiver announcement and China’s view of it raised concerns among some specialists who view it as a step by the Obama administration toward eventually lifting the arms embargo.

“The C-130 proposal is obviously a toe in the water and, as such, should be rejected,” said John Bolton, former undersecretary of state for international security. “This administration seems to have two messages about America for foreign governments: weak and weaker.”

- The Washington Times -

Obama Backs Gates in Budget Debate

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President Barack Obama today promised to veto any legislation that includes funding for an alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter or more C-17 Globemaster, expressing his “strong support” for Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ budget-reform effort.

“As the Congress continues its work on funding bills for the Department of Defense, I want to reiterate my strong support for the reforms Secretary Gates is advancing at the Pentagon,” Obama said in a written statement the White House released today. “He has kept me fully apprised of his efforts to reform how our military operates and bring needed efficiencies to the Department of Defense.”

Obama said he stands “squarely behind” Gates’ position on the second F-35 engine and the C-17 program.

“As the statement of administration policy made clear,” the president said in his statement, “Our military does not want or need these programs being pushed by the Congress, and should Congress ignore this fact, I will veto any such legislation so that it can be returned to me without those provisions.”

- Defensetalk.com