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US Air Forces and their South Korean counter-part conducted a large-scale joint exercise over the week-end. South Korea and US frequently participated in joint exercises in the past, but this is the first time where the jet fighters were fully decked with weapons and equipment similar to a real wartime operation.
The jet fighters were fully armed and they were deployed in an airstrip to fly their sorties. Ten South Korean KF-10 fighters and 50 F-16 fighters participated in the exercise and it includes 400 pilots and maintenance staff. The drill was conducted in a Gunsan air base located at the North Jeolla Provinc, South Korea.
The exercise drill was conducted in order to practice both factions in arming themselves and prepare their units in the shortest time possible in case of an invasion from North Korea or other provocations to war. The jet fighters were loaded with AIM-120 air-to-air missiles and MK-82 air-to-ground bombs. They are ordered to attack major enemy targets when the real operation comes.
According to Maj. Oh Chung-won, officer in-charge of the South Korean forces, “The drill was very helpful in establishing speedy and effective S. Korea and US air capabilities in wartime, we will further boost our combined combat power by resolving shirt-coming identified by the drill.”
North Korea had earlier expressed their irritation on the continued US presence in the Korean peninsula.
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President Ma Ying-jeou and American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt.
Taiwan’s Deputy Legislative Speaker Tseng Yung-chuan , a close ally of President Ma Ying-jeou, said on Monday he expects the US will agree only to upgrade the nation’s existing fleet of F-16 jets and not sell Taipei new ones. He said Taiwan has been grateful for US support for decades, but a decision against providing F-16C/D aircraft would “not be satisfactory.”
Two US senators who share that view introduced legislation on Monday demanding US President Barack Obama authorize sales of at least 66 of the F-16C/Ds to Taiwan.
By supplying the planes, the US would anger Beijing and would set back Washington’s efforts to improve its own relations with China.
While Tseng said he was not aware a formal decision on the planes had been conveyed to Taiwan, he said through an interpreter: “Based upon the current situation, it seems that the US is only going to upgrade the F-16A/B air fighters. Speaking for the legislature, this is not satisfactory.”
“These weapons are not going to be used for war. It’s purely based on the purpose of national defense,” he said.
Under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the US is legally required to provide Taiwan with arms for its self defense.
Source: Taipei Times
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Washington and Baghdad have made significant progress on an F-16 deal but do not have a signed contract just yet, a U.S. military official said.
The Iraqi government in February delayed its planned purchase of F-16s and diverted $900 million set aside for an initial payment on the aircraft into its national food ration programme to help ease shortages and cool nationwide protests. But Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on July 30 that Iraq would buy 36 F-16s, double the number it had originally planned, to shore up its weak air defences.
“Our two governments are working out the details. They do not have a signed contract yet, but significant progress (has been made) towards it,” Major General Jeffrey Buchanan said.
Lockheed Martin, a leading Pentagon supplier and maker of the popular multi-role F-16 fighter used by about two dozen countries worldwide, has been involved in the talks, Buchanan added. The two sides are negotiating on the F-16 Block 52 export model with sophisticated avionics and weapons.
Lockheed Martin said in May it hoped to finalise F-16 sales to Iraq by early next year.
Iraq relies on the U.S. military for air support as it rebuilds its military more than eight years after the invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein. But U.S. forces are scheduled to leave Iraq by year-end under terms of a bilateral security pact. The two sides are discussing whether to keep some U.S. troops or military trainers in the country next year.
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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.
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According to news from Washington, U.S. Vice President Biden will visit China in mid-August and September to explain about a new round of arms sales to Taiwan.
U.S. side hopes the issue will not seriously harm bilateral relations. Although the protest and controversy, of course will continue, but if the long-troubled US-Taiwan arms sales F-16 fighters ends, both parties will be relieved.
The news from Washington that the Obama administration has tentatively decided to use this window of F-16 fighters to solve the problem of arms sales. Specific approach is Vice President Biden’s visit to China on August 17, in discussing the US-China relations and international relations, he will explain arms sales to Taiwan.
The F-16CD fighters of the Chinese arms sales has long been recognized as insurmountable red line. The Obama administration has refused to accept Taiwan’s asking price book. But even if the sensitivity is relatively lower, $ 4.5 billion worth of F-16AB fighters to upgrade the case, Obama has been unable to find an appropriate time to inform the Congress.
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Foreign Minister Lene Espersen told parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday that the Air Force is preparing four F-16 fighter jets to take part in an internationally-backed no-fly zone over Libya,should Nato high command decide to act.
The government is trying to build support in parliament and internationally for a United Nations-backed no-fly zone over Libya to block Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi from making further advances against rebel forces and attacking Libyan civilians.
“The Arab world has made it very clear that the UN Security Council must make the decision. That’s why we all need to work right now to ensure that the UNSecurity Council has the backing it needs to make that decision,” Espersen said.
She added that a UN-backed no-fly zone was “a very important and correct step,” towards showing Qaddafi that the international community does not accept his attacks against civilians.
The UN Security Council was scheduled to meet again on Wednesday morning to discuss the feasibility of a no-fly zone.
The F-16 has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack. It provides a relatively low-cost, high-performance weapon system for the United States and allied nations.
In an air combat role, the F-16′s maneuverability and combat radius (distance it can fly to enter air combat, stay, fight and return) exceed that of all potential threat fighter aircraft. It can locate targets in all weather conditions and detect low flying aircraft in radar ground clutter. In an air-to-surface role, the F-16 can fly more than 500 miles (860 kilometers), deliver its weapons with superior accuracy, defend itself against enemy aircraft, and return to its starting point. An all-weather capability allows it to accurately deliver ordnance during non-visual bombing conditions
- the Copenhagen post Online
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Major General Lo Hsien-che
A Taiwanese general has been arrested over claims he spied for China, the defense ministry said Wednesday as it scrambled to limit the damage from what it called the worst espionage case in 50 years.
Army Major General Lo Hsien-che was recruited by China while stationed in Thailand between 2002 and 2005 and was detained late last month, the ministry said in a statement. At the time of his arrest, the 51-year-old was head of the army’s telecommunications and electronic information department, according to the statement.
“We don’t know for sure, but there’s no reason to believe that he stopped spying for China after returning home from Thailand,” a ministry official told AFP, on condition of anonymity.
“This is definitely the worst Chinese communist espionage case in the past half century.”
Some reportedly detail the Po Sheng (Broad Victory) system, a sophisticated command, control and communications network that Taiwan is purchasing from US defense contractor Lockheed Martin at a cost of Tw$46 billion ($1.6 billion).
China is believed to be very interested in learning more about the project as it enables the Taiwanese military to get access to US intelligence systems, the China Times newspaper said.
Other documents include the army’s procurement of 30 Boeing-made Apache AH-64D Longbow attack helicopters and the army’s underground optical fibre network system, it said.
“He has brought shame to the military. Servicemen are supposed to be loyal to their country,” said Lieutenant General Wang Ming-wo, acting director of the ministry’s Political Warfare Bureau.
Military analysts warned that the espionage case may further delay the proposed US sale of next generation F-16 fighter jets and submarines, weapons Taiwan says it badly needs to defend itself against its giant neighbour.
“The case may give the United States second thoughts while evaluating the arms deals,” said Wung Ming-hsien, a strategy expert at Tamkang University near Taipei.
Taipei applied to the US government to buy 66 F-16s in early 2007, but observers say Washington has held up the deal for fear of angering Beijing. Now, the US government may also fear that a deal could cause military secrets to fall into Chinese hands, according to Wung.
“We’re in touch with Taiwanese authorities on the case,” said Sheila Paskman, a spokeswoman for The American Institute in Taiwan, the US de facto embassy in Taipei.