Deputy legislative speaker says no F-16s sale

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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

Taiwan to get 30 new build Apache Block III

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The US Army has confirmed that Taiwan will be the first customer for the AH-64D Apache Block III.

The deal for 30 Apache aircraft, which was the number confirmed by Col Shane Openshaw, PM Apache, could be worth some $2.5 billion according to the DCSA. The aircraft would be a major enhancement to Taiwanese capabilities.

The AH-64D Apache Block III is the most advanced variant of the attack helicopter. It has updated avionics and an improved dynamic system giving the aircraft better performance and greater interoperability with unmanned air systems and troops on the ground.

Overall, AH-64D Longbow Block III improvements incorporate 25 technology insertions as part of the Army’s future force plan. On July 14/06, Boeing and U.S. Army officials signed a $619.3 million contract for Block III upgrades to the current and future Apache fleet, via a virtual signing ceremony held in Washington, DC; Huntsville, AL; and Mesa, AZ. Previously signed and executed contracts for risk reduction engineering work were collectively valued at another $66.1 million, and there had also been some advance ordering and development of components like radar units.

The Apache for Taiwan will be part of the low-rate initial production batch. The first new build Apache Block III will be one of the aircraft for Taiwan and will go on the line in Mesa, Arizona, in October this year.

Openshaw said he expected the Taiwanese aircraft to be delivered in the 2012-2013 timeframe.

Source: shephard.co.uk, defenseindustrydaily.com

Taiwan needs to focus on getting F-35B

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Taiwan flag

Signaling a greater-than-ever military threat to Taiwan, new information emerged this week showing that China might be much further ahead in its development of a fifth-generation fighter aircraft than previously believed.

In what has caused a major stir within the Pentagon, Beijing Internet censors earlier this week allowed high-resolution photographs of the Chengdu Aircraft Corp stealth fighter to be published for the first time.

“For Taiwan, this means that even a sale of the latest versions of the Lockheed Martin F-16 will only provide a brief period of technical parity with the People’s Liberation Army,” Richard Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center in Washington, told the Taipei Times.

Fisher said it was now possible China could deploy significant numbers of the fifth-generation fighters — codenamed the Chengdu J-20 — within 10 years.

“There is now even greater reason for Taiwan to consider shifting its air defense resources to the more survivable short take-off fifth-generation F-35B, with modifications that increase its air combat potential,” he said. “Today, it is doubly tragic for Taiwan that Washington does not appear to be willing to sell either fighter to Taipei.”

Taiwan is urgently pressing US President Barack Obama to sell it 66 advanced versions of the F-16, but with Chinese President Hu Jintao scheduled to visit Washington later this month, a sale is unlikely to be approved anytime soon.

Aviation Week and Space Technology reported that China has begun flight-testing the J-20, which puts it only a few years behind the troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which is being developed by the US and a coalition of countries.

“The US should never be afraid to engage the PRC [People’s Republic of China], but neither should it give the Chinese the impression that Washington is dealing with them out of fear,” an analyst said.

- Taipei Times

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Taiwan Calls for More US Warplanes

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In the wake of the latest Pentagon report on China’s military might, Taiwan has repeated its plea for advanced F-16 warplanes from the United States to defend itself — apparently from a potential Chinese military threat.

Receiving visiting U.S. Senator Roland Burris on Thursday, Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou requested the U.S. government to “cautiously consider selling F-16C/Ds to Taiwan as the balance of cross-Strait military power is tipping in China’s favor.”

F-16C

He justified his persistent appeals for American fighter planes saying that “Taiwan people’s top concern is Taiwan’s security.”

In a report released on Monday, the U.S. Defense Department expressed concern over Beijing’s expanding military capabilities directed at Taiwan, saying “the balance of cross-Strait military forces continues to shift in the mainland’s favor.”

The report drew protest from Chinese government over its “interfering nature, distortion of facts, and baseless speculations.” The Chinese Defense Ministry condemned the Pentagon report, and clarified that its military “does not pose a threat to any nation.”

“We hope the U.S. can continue to supply Taiwan with defensive weapons in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act, including F16 C/Ds, diesel submarines and other items we have requested,” Taiwan defense ministry spokesman Yu Sy-tue said.

Receiving a delegation from the U.S. Center for Strategic and International Studies earlier this month, Ma Ying-jeou said armament like the C/D versions of F-16 fighter jets are necessary not to increase the attack power, but to replace outdated warplanes.

He added that while Taiwan-U.S. military cooperation was important to Taipei, equally important was the need to reduce tension in the Taiwan Strait. He reminded Washington to keep its commitment to sell arms under the Taiwan Relations Act.

At the same time, he repeatedly urged China to remove the missiles facing Taiwan as a condition for Taipei discussing a peace pact with Beijing, which turned a dumb ear to it.

- RTT News

- DefenseNews